PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store

Please see update #24 at the end of this sotry for an important update.

“I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again.” “I’m an attorney, I will sue you.” “I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call.” “I’m going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you.” “You’d better get this through your thick skull.” “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when I called to inquire about my order with them. My crime? Telling him that I planned to write an article about my unfortunate experience with his company regarding the camera order I had placed with him yesterday.

How are these people able to stay in business?

I suppose I should have been duly warned based on PC World’s Camera Confidential expose written a few years back about unscrupulous camera operators operating out of New York, but I have never been so utterly offended by a retailer in my life. I guess in some ways this is my own fault, or as Steve Phillips reminded me, you’re a “professional photographer you should know better than to buy things on the internet this way.”

I have been keeping track of The new Canon EOS 5D for a while. As those of you who visit this site regularly know, photography is a passionate hobby of mine. I’ve told myself that I’d pick up a 5D as soon as the price dropped below $3,000. I’ve been regularly checking both Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber for a while waiting for one to drop. Well yesterday for the first time I saw that the 5D was for sale for $2,899 at PriceRitePhoto. I placed an order online and this is where my trouble began. The order went through and was confirmed and is shown below.

PriceRitePhoto Order

The first thing that happened was I received a call from an individual who identified himself as Joseph telling me that there was a “problem” with my order. He said he needed to “verify” the security code on my American Express. Although I had given that security code in the order I gave him this code again. He then tried to explain to me that I was going to need some accessories with this camera. For starters I was going to need a new memory card. When I told him that I already had a memory card he became somewhat insistent that mine was not good enough. After I wouldn’t buy his memory card he said I’d need new batteries for the camera. Again I told him that I already had two batteries at home and would not be needing to purchase these from him. And of course he then tried to sell me the ever famous “extended warranty” that I politely declined. He then thanked me for my time, confirmed my order verbally, said that it would be shipping out in the next few days and hung up.

So today I checked on my order online again and saw that it had not been routed to shipping and called the company back again. Four times I was put on hold for a substantial amount of time and had to hang up and call the company again. Finally I was able to connect with an individual who said his name was Steve Phillips. Steve Phillips abruptly told me that the camera was out of stock. When I protested and told him that it was confirmed online yesterday and verbally by his sales rep he refused to budge. When I told him that even right now as we speak the camera was still showing online at that price on his website,(see below with today’s date) he still insisted that he did not have the camera.

PriceRitePhoto

At this point I thanked him and informed him that I would be writing an article about my experience with his company. It was at this point that he went ballistic. He first told me that if I did this that he would not cancel my order but just never fill it. If I cancelled it he said he’d charge me a 15% restocking fee. When I told him that that would be unethical he went nuts. He accused me of trying to “extort” him and said that he was going to have two local police officers come over and arrest me. He then went on to say that as a “professional photographer” I should have known better than to try and buy a camera this way and that he was an attorney and would sue me if I wrote an article about my experience.

He told me that I had no idea who I was dealing with and that as he had my work contact info that he was going to call both my immediate supervisor and the CEO of my company and tell them that I was trying to extort him.

“I will take this very personally,” he said. He claimed to have recorded our phone call and said that he would make sure that I would “never be able to order anything on the internet again.”

Of course these threats only served to agitate me more. After about 20 minutes of this abuse I told him that I had to go and he refused to get off the line. He said that if I hung up that he would just charge me for the whole camera and never ship it. I hung up and he called me back. I left for my meeting and he called back asking to speak with my boss.

This is by far the most abusive situation I have ever encountered with any retailer on the internet.

One of the things that troubles me the most about this situation is that I found this retailer through Yahoo! shopping and they were perceived to have positive feedback. Is the feedback mechanism for Yahoo! Shopping broken? How could this horrible retailer have a four star rating with 858 ratings? I’m convinced that there is a possibility that many of the “reviews” for this company could be fake. I should though have sorted through the reviews to the worst to see that many others had fallen prey to similar fraud by this company.

How is this company still allowed to offer their products through Yahoo! Shopping?

PriceRitePhoto may also be doing business as C&A; Marketing and TheCameraMall.com

Below are some examples from other users:

“very bad place for shoppping. Ordered a TV a week ago. when checking out, the shipping price was higher than displayed by Yahoo. That is ok. Called customer service 2 days later to make sure the order was ok. The guy from customer service tried to sell other things to me, and promised the item will come in 2 days. After 3 days, called again, I was told they over sold the item, and my order was cancelled. what a joke! Don’t buy thing from this merchant!!!”

“In all the years I’ve done business with online stores(and I’ve done plenty), this is by far the ABSOLUTE WORST company I’ve conducted business with yet. They’re customer service is almost completely inaccessible despite their 24/7 365 claim, they don’t deliver on anything they say they will, they’re rude and pushy, and any information that IS sent back is usually filled with vague half-answers that do nothing to solve any problems. This is just an awful business experience. Case in point: They claim to be open on Sundays over the phone from 10AM to 4PM EDT. Well, what they really mean is that the sales department is open, but customer service(who will place you on hold forever during the week) is closed, as is billing. STAY AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY. And warn your friends. …”

“I gave this store an overall rating of 1. That is because Yahoo does not allow me to rate it any lowe
r. I cannot stress enough how poor the customer service from the wretched excuse of a store. First off, they stress ‘we ship in less than 24 hours’. That is a blatant lie. An hour after placing the order, I received a call to confirm that I had indeed purchased a camera, and that the delivery address was correct. So far, so good. I returned the call, and informed them that yes I had indeed purchased a camera, and yes, the information was correct. The next day, I received another phone call to confirm the shipping address, and did I also want to purchase an extended warranty? Yes, the address is correct, and no, I don’t want your warranty. They assured me my camera would be shipped that day. Three days later, I again received a phone call to confirm the shipping address, which had now been done 3 times, and did I want to purchase the extended warranty? Yes, the information is correct, no I don’t want your stupid warranty, I was assured the camera would be shipped that day. It is, in my opinion unconscionable to delay shipping an order for over a week, just so a company can try a high pressure sales job, on a warranty a customer has already told them, repeatedly, that they don’t want. It has now been ten days since the date of purchase, and still no camera. My experience with this store is one I will never repeat, nor would I wish it upon my worst enemy!!”

and yet another review I found on the company:

“I placed an order with TheCameraMall.com (aka PriceRitePhoto aka C&A;
Marketing) on June 9, 2005 for a Sony DSR-PD170 camcorder. At the time
the price advertised on-line was very low, which should have raised a
warning flag, but a call to the company confirmed the item was in stock
ready to be shipped, that it was a US model, the user’s manual was in
English, and the salesman (Joseph) seemed helpful. There was some
pressure to add unwanted items like a tripod, extra battery, etc, but they
were declined. An offer to add insurance was offered, and initially I
declined but then agreed after being told that otherwise if the product
arrived and was non-functional I would be taking full risk. Before the
product could be shipped I was asked to sign and fax a form, appended
below, that indicated that if I wrote any negative feedback I would agree
to have my credit card charged $100, and that I also agreed to waive my
right to chargeback to the credit card company, and that product could not
be returned for any reason. I signed and returned this form with the
understanding that the company would send the item I ordered. However
after a week there was no indication of a product even having been
shipped, and the customer service contact indicated that only the
salesperson could give me order status, so after several tried I reached
Joseph again, and now he indicated that he couldn’t ship the product
unless I faxed him a copy of my credit-card!!! This I refused to do, and
have never, ever had to do for a transaction. I sent email to the company
requesting cancelation of the order, and received yet another email asked
me to sign and fax back a form indicating that I would not post negative
feedback and if I did I was authorizing my credit card to be charged
$100. I refused to sign this.

I did post feedback to
the feedback links provided by the customer describing the details of the
transaction, including the forms I had been sent.

The day after posting the feedback describing my attempt to buy the video
camera from PriceRitePhoto/CameraMall, I received a call from a “John
Hancock”, claiming to be the owner of the camera companies, and demanding
that I remove the feedback I posted. He said that he would charge my
credit card for the amount of the camera and and additional $250 for each
posting. He also said that he was shipping a Malaysian version of the
camera, without a lens, to me, and that he would make money on the deal,
and I couldn’t stop the shipment, or dispute the charge. My credit card
company confirmed that a pending charge had been placed by PriceRite, but
the charge was not yet posted, and once it was posted, I could dispute.

The next day, July 6, I received several calls from “John Hancock”,
demanding again that I remove the feedback I had posted, and when I agreed
that I would remove anything that he felt was not accurate, but if he
could not indicate any inaccuracy, then the feedback would remain. He
screamed and swore at me over the phone, and said that he would post my
credit card number on the internet if I didn’t comply.

On July 8 a charge was posted to my credit card for $2139.99 and a second
charge was posted for $100.00. I called my credit card company and
initiated the dispute process. The security department of BankOne Credit
strongly suggested that I cancel my credit card, and complete an internet
fraud report.
Description of how you were defrauded:
My credit card has been charged $2238.99 for an cancelled order.
I’ve been threatened with additional multiple charges against my
credit card unless I change feedback posted to the Internet, and I’ve
been threatened with having my credit card number posted to the
Internet. I’ve had to cancel my credit card on the advice of my
credit card provider.”

Update #1: Found this text on their eBay store ad: “We guarantee our customers to have the best quality products and the best customer service! Our customers love us for our friendly attitude, buy with confidence!”

This just makes me sick. If you want to Digg this story you can here.

Update #2: Well I just received a call back from Steve Phillips at PriceRitePhoto. He said that I should be expecting a call from the “FBI” shortly and that “my tactics” of flooding his store’s phone lines was “illegal.” When I asked him to hold on as I wanted to turn on my recorder to record our conversation he hung up on me.

Of course I have not called his store at all but I’d imagine that the attention that his abuse has received from Digg and other places on the internet may have something to do with that.

My boss did have a conversation with me about the fact that this guy called him yesterday and was very understanding about the situation.

Update #3: Also since calling my boss, Steve Phillips has called my boss’ assistant several times this morning as well. Contrary to Steve Phillips claims, I still have had no police officers show up at my office to “arrest me.” Nor have I been contacted by the “FBI.”

Last night when I called AMEX it appeared that PriceRitePhoto had not charged my card yet. My guess is that when I refused to buy their high priced accessories that they never had any intention of sending me the camera at their advertised price. I blocked the card with AMEX and will be getting a new number to prevent them from further abusing my credit card.

I have also filed a complaint with the New York Attorney General’s office regarding their behavior and have left negative reviews on my experience with their company on most of the shopping comparison services that they are included in. Hopefully from the attention that this story has received they will reflect on the appropriateness of their sales tactics going forward.

If anyone has a contact at Yahoo! Shopping it would be nice to learn from them that they were being delisted or at least investigated over this.

Interestingly enough, it was just two weeks back that Yahoo! made
an announcement about an overhaul to their shopping service. It would seem that they plan to include more social networking type reviews on products and vendors in the future. Hopefully whatever new system they put in place will help weed out the bad apples like PriceRitePhoto.

Of course even as late as today, they still have the camera that they told me as out of stock on their internet site for sale for $2,899.

Update #4: Received this email back from the New York State Attorney General’s Office today: “Dear Consumer:

Thank you for your submission to the New York State Attorney General’s Internet Bureau. On behalf of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, I want to thank you for taking the time to alert us to this matter. Your assistance is vital to our efforts to serve the people of the State of New York.

We have added your submission to our files. It is through complaints such as yours that we learn of patterns of fraud and illegality. If you have any questions about this matter, please call us at (212) 416-8433. For other consumer-related matters, please call our consumer hotline at (800) 771-7755.

Thank you for contacting us.”

Update #5: Thanks to a complaint by Digg User loker269, PriceGrabber has now delisted PriceRitePhoto. Nice to see PriceGrabber do the responsible thing here.

Update #6: This story has risen to the number one dugg story on Digg this year with 5439 diggs so far today. Thanks diggers!

I also received this email today from Joe Lazarus, Director of Marketing for Yahoo! Inc.: “Tom, I wanted to follow up on a comment I added to your post on PriceRitePhoto. I work at Yahoo! Shopping. I passed your issue along to our Customer Care team who will investigate and take the appropriate action per our merchant Guidelines and Terms of Service. I covered some more details in my comment. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions. ~ Joe”

Update #7: This story just made the front page of Slashdot. It was also on Boing Boing and Metafilter today along with many, many other blogs. I truly hope that this attention shines a light on the abusive bait and switch tactics that so many of you have also unfortunately experienced and shared in your comments.

The support is overwhelming and very much appreciated. And, yes, yes, yes, I do know that I was stupid and should have known better and done my homework before buying from these guys — but that doesn’t negate the fact that their sales tactics are wrong and deserve to be stopped.

Update #8: Although I have not heard directly back from Yahoo! or their Marketing Director Joe Lazarus. It would appear at least that for the time being, today, PriceRitePhoto is not operating on Yahoo! Shopping. They are still listed as a merchant there and there is a link to their store but when you do a search by their store for products for sale through Yahoo! you get the following message: “We didn’t find any product results for mid:1016578.” I’m not sure if Yahoo! pulled their listings or if PriceRitePhoto did or if that is just part of what happens when Yahoo! investigates a company. I hope that if after investigating Yahoo! concludes that this company is acting unethically that they will in fact delist them altogether. I will update as I hear more on this.

Also, fortunately, my server has held up remarkably well with all of the traffic being sent to this story from the above sources. I recently had to move from a shared server to a dedicated server with lots of excess capacity because I’ve had many highly ranked Google Images that had been eating through my bandwidth in the past. Also it helps keep my bandwidth usage down as the photos that are included as part of this story are actually hosted by Flickr, my favorite site on the internet and as I oft like to repeat, “almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.” Ironically, of course in all of this, Flickr is owned by Yahoo!

Below is an image of the company’s website this morning. As you can see, the camera that was supposedly “out of stock” when I refused to purchase their high priced accessories is still being shown for sale at the $2,899 price even still today. I suspect that they do actually have the camera in stock but that they only sell it to those who load up on expensive accessories and warranty plans from them.

PriceRitePhotos Supposed

Update #9: One of the best stories I have read in conjunction with this article was a letter that Slashdot user DrWho42 (558107) wrote to PriceGrabber regarding his own personal experience with PriceRitePhoto about a year ago. It is a well articulated letter and pretty much describes PriceRitePhoto perfectly. Apparently because of this well written letter PriceGrabber, according to the user, took PriceRitePhoto off of their site a year ago. He wonders how they could have gotten back on PriceGrabber. I would be interested if someone at PriceGrabber could comment on this report and tell us why after this merchant was removed from their site a year ago and a known bait and switch merchant who used extortion to try and influence feedback, that they would be allowed back on. I see that they are pulled off PriceGrabber now, but if it is true that they were banned a year ago and still made it back on then I’d say PriceGrabber’s system is pretty much broken. It’s a long read but very worthwhile.

Update #10: Although the priceritephoto.com site is still up, I received an email today from a reader who complained to their hosting provider Webair.com. I’m not sure exactly the ramifications of the email from Webair. It was sent from abuse@webair.com and was forwarded to me as follows:

“This client has been sent a TOS violation for illegal activity.

Thank you,

Webair Abuse Team”

Update #11: I received a call this morning from Ed Lopez, the owner of PriceRitePhoto. We spoke at length and he told me that the activity that has resulted from my post on my experience with his business has most certainly impacted his business. Mr. Lopez told me that he was calling to apologize and that Mr. Philips was going to be terminated at a company board meeting later on this morning. He confirmed to me that they do have the camera in question in stock and although I am not interested in purchasing it from them at this point indicated that he would sell it for me at the advertised price. Subsequently Ed sent me the following email:

“On behalf of Priceritephoto I would like
to sincerely apologize for the negative experience that you have experienced with our company. As a company this is not representative of the way we treat our customers. If there is anything that we can do at this point to rectify the situation, please let me know. We have tens of thousands of happy customers who have purchased form us in the past and it is our commitment to give our customers the best value when dealing with us. We are doing a comprehensive review of our company’s procedures to ensure that something like this never occurs. We have also terminated Mr. Philips from his position with our company.”

Although I do not believe my “Steve Philips experience” was an isolated case by this merchant (and certainly the other testimonials suggest that this is in fact more of a common practice by them), my own personal view is that any retaliation towards this vendor should be channeled through legitimate and legal channels. Although some of the crank phone calls are actually pretty funny I think that it is better to take the high road in this case and to use legitimate resources where they exist, whether reporting them to the comparison pricing services or contacting the Attorney General (as I have done) or reporting them to people like the Better Business Bureau.

I think that the popularity of this story comes in large part because the message resonates so strongly with all of us. Although in a sense it is the classic tale of David and Goliath retold, it is much more than this. We all have at one point or another in our lives been bullied and most of us have been defrauded or ripped off. The fact that so many times in the past there was nothing we could do about it makes us feel all that much better about the fact that in today’s internet and blogosphere we actually CAN do something about it.

It is tremendously empowering for all of us to be able to turn the powerlessness that we felt in the past into justice in todays’ blogosphere through the help of things like Digg and Slashdot and Boing Boing. And although every rip off does not receive this level of attention, I believe this story in a greater sense is representative of perhaps thousands of rip off experiences that we have all suffered in the past and been able to do nothing about – some directly with this vendor, some directly with New York based camera vendors like this one, and some with just fraudulent internet businesses wherever they happen to be located. Because we in the past have had to live with the bitterness of our own personal frauds, our feelings towards the popularity of this story is that much stronger – as is our desire to retaliate.

This being said, I again would encourage everyone to take the high road with respect to this vendor. I believe that the power of this story and the ultimate outcome, whatever that may be, will carry much more weight if as a public we handle things responsibly and do not resort to illegal tactics or harassment. Although there is a sense that we all must feel that these folks have gotten what they deserved, I think it would be a far greater legacy for this story to have if change takes place in legal and legitimate channels.

I cannot speak to the sincerity of Ed Lopez. He has sent me an apology letter and I feel it appropriate to print it. His motivation very well may be legitimate — or it could also be the only possible avenue Mr. Lopez has left to try to salvage his business at this point.

Out of all of this, hopefully more than anything, this story will serve as a reminder to shady businesses everywhere that in the end fraud and abusive behavior towards customers does not pay. Perhaps I’m being overly idealistic here and perhaps this incident is the smallest possible blip in the greater world of internet fraud — but one thing I do know is that the power of the consumer is growing. And in a new world today with tools like blogs and Slashdot and Digg the consumer is empowered in great ways that they never have been in the past.

Update #12: This story is now on the first page search results for the term PriceRitePhoto for both Google and Yahoo! It is the number one returned search result, even ahead of their store, on MSN Search. Their site has been down now since yesterday afternoon — I’m not sure if this is the result of hacker activity or a reaction from their hosting company for bandwidth useage or TOS violations. The story was also picked up by Digital Life TV. You can view the episode here.

Update #13: PriceRitePhoto has been delisted from both Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber. They still do appear however to have a profile listing giving them four stars at CNET. I could not find any products for sale from them on CNET but they still are up as a four star internet retailer. Their internet site is still down as of this morning and the story has moved up to the number 4th search result for the term priceritephoto on Google. A wikipedia entry was started for priceritephoto but it appears to have been edited out of wikipedia.

Update #14: I’ve written a follow-up post asking if PriceRitePhoto and TheCameraMall are the same company.

Update #15: I just received an email from David Bricker, the Director of Partner Services at CNET Networks. According to David: “We have pulled PriceRitePhoto.com from our site(s) and their affiliated companies. The “profile” page, while still live, is impossible to navigate to. That said, we’ll be pulling that page down from our web servers shortly.”

I have sent a follow up email to David asking if he can provide me the names of their “affiliated companies.”

Update #16: I just received an email back from CNET’s David Bricker who pointed me to a Better Business Bureau report identifying additional companies that are affiliated with PriceRitePhoto. Although TheCameraMall is not listed on a Better Business Bureau report as one of PriceRitePhoto’s affiliates, according to the Better Business Bureau of New York, PriceRitePhoto is in fact affiliated with many other names and ultimately would seem to fall under a parent company going by the name of Let’s Go Digital that is owned by Jack Heffner. You can see the report yourself here which includes their contact and other information. According to the BBB they additional are using the following business names: A. Heffco Technologies, Inc., C&A; Marketing, Dealz Net, Hype Audio, Ideal Audio/Video, Ideal Photo and Video, Let’s Go Digital, LGD Superstore, Price Rite Photo, Prices Rite Photo.

Yesterday when I was on the phone with Ed Lopez he denied that Jack Heffner was affiliated with PriceRitePhoto although he did acknowledge knowing Jack Heffner and identified him as the owner of LGD Superstore (another alleged affiliate according to the BBB)

Update #17: Although PriceRitePhoto’s website is still offline and they appear to have been dropped from all of the major shopping comparison sites, they are still operating on eBay. They are listed there as a “power seller.”

Update #18: After being down for much of the later half of last week, PriceRitePhoto appears to be back up again this morning. They have a note on their website: “For those of you who tried to contact us in the past few days, we would like to apologize for any inconvenience that you may have incurred. Our website was down for maintenance and we are back up and fully operational. If you have placed an order with us please be assured that it will be shipped in a timely manner. Happy Holidays.”

This article is now the number two search result behind their store for anyone searching PriceRitePhoto on Google. This article is the number two story behind their store for anyone searching PriceRitePhoto on Yahoo! And it is still the number one search result for the term PriceRitePhoto at MSN Search. Kevin and Alex also chat about the story on the latest Diggnation podcast recorded in Tokyo.

Update #19: The New York Post covered the story.

Update #20: Well in addition to the PriceRitePhoto story being picked up by the New York Post today, I received a bit more information in one of my comments. Since the beginning of my problems with PriceRitePhoto I’ve suspected that PriceRitePhoto’s purported owner “Ed Lopez” was a fictional name. It seemed to me unusual that PriceRitePhoto had an individual by the name of Eduardo Lopez register their domain name while another camera store linked to them TheCameraMall had an Eduardo Sanchez register their domain name. According the the New York Post: “a call to PriceRitePhoto produced no Ed Lopez, and further calls and an e-mail went unanswered.”

Today I received the following comment on my blog: “By the way, the owner’s name is not Ed Lopez. His name is Chaim Pikarski. I know it because I worked for him in the past. His tactics do not surprise me, and all he is trying to do is hide his true identity through the alias of Ed Lopez. Actually, I would be very surprised if you ever spoke to the owner. It was most likely just an employee that provided you a fictitious name and is probably just a manager.”

Turns out upon doing a Google search for “Chaim Pikarski” one of the results back is a directory for the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. They have Chaim Pikarski listed at the following address: 140 58th St., Unit 4E, BX 37 in Brooklyn and a phone number of (718) 491-4300. Interestingly enough, one of the addresses that comes up under Don Wiss’ excellent series of Brooklyn Camera Store Storefronts for CP Industries, dba TheCameraMall is the same address in Brooklyn, 140 58th St. Also, if you do a Google search for the phone number 718-491-4300 you can find an old cached page listing that phone number as a number for The Camera Zone, another company which has been identified by Wiss as being under the same management as TheCameraMall.

This site , Digital Paradise (The Digital Paradise is an automated electronic marketplace designed to streamline the purchasing and selling processes of games & electronics for the gaming community) also lists the exact same phone number and address for The Camera Zone as is listed for Pikarski in the Googled Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp.

Now this is in no way conclusive evidence that Chaim Pikarski is the true individual behind TheCameraMall and PriceRitePhoto, but I would be interested if anyone else had any information on Chaim Pikarski and/or information regarding his involvement in these businesses.

Also to note, and I’m not sure why, the Better Business Bureau of New York has pulled down some of the information regarding PriceRitePhoto from their website. The report where PriceRitePhoto was previously named by them is “being updated,” and the following message is on the site: “The Bureau’s report on this business is currently being updated, and no report is available at this time. Please check this site in approximately four to six weeks.”

Update #21: Update #21: One of the things that these shady camera dealers seem to have a reputation for is carrying multiple different company identities and then changing names when things go wrong with an existing identitiy. So go figure that PriceRitePhoto has just changed their identity on on eBay on Monday of this week from PriceRitePhoto to “Barclay’s Photo.” Now barclaysphoto can welcome in a whole new round of suckers. Barclay’s, like the bank, now that sounds catchy.

Of course Barclay’s (formerly known as PriceRitePhoto) seems to have a bit better feedback on eBay than they’ve had on the other shopping comparison sites (where they’ve been bounced). My guess is that this is because it is harder to bait and switch on eBay. You can’t make up fake feedback there like you can at Yahoo! Shopping and PriceGrabber because each feedback must be tied to a specific transaction. Perhaps their behavior and treatment of eBay customers is better than the other comparison shopping sites. It is interesting though that almost everything that they’ve sold on eBay seems to be packaged with accesories. This might make it easier for them to be nice when they are making money on a transaction and not advertising rock bottom prices to then bait and switch.

They still do have some negative feedback on eBay of course with things like: “great product and great deal,but shipping took forever and alot of telemarketing,” and “Terrible co. to deal with. Misrepresentation. Bait & Switch on their web site.”

So welcome to the new world of online shopping Barclay’s Photo. Hopefully you do better than your evil twin (er, exact same company) PriceRitePhoto. And thanks eBay for having such a nifty feature as allowing online shopping companies the ability to change names and identity. We wouldn’t want any eBay online stores being weighed down with a bad name for bad behavior now would we?

And here’s another interesting point, before being called PriceRitePhoto, it seems Barclay’s/PriceRitePhoto was once called Film4Less — they’ve also gone by edigix as well.

Update #22: Comparison Shopping on Sale – Forbes.com: From Forbes: “While the vast majority of user reviews and merchant ratings provide a useful service, online shoppers can still get caught by disreputable merchants. One blogger, Thomas Hawk of San Francisco, recently attempted to purchase a Canon EOS 5D camera that he saw listed for $2,899 at PriceRitePhoto—the lowest price online at the time. Hawk checked and found positive store reviews, but after placing the order, Hawk claims he was c
ontacted by a PriceRitePhoto, employee who tried to sell Hawk expensive accessories to go with the camera. When Hawk declined, the employee said the camera was no longer available and threatened to charge Hawk’s credit card and never send the camera. (PriceRitePhoto did not return phone calls requesting a comment.)

Yahoo Shopping’s vice president, Rob Solomon, said that PriceRitePhoto had rigged Yahoo’s feedback system to garner positive reviews. Hawk was lucky because he was able to cancel his credit card before any money was charged. However, things could have been worse. Yahoo Shopping offers a money-back guarantee to its buyers, but that guarantee is capped at $1,000. Sites like Become.com and NexTag offer no such guarantees.”

Update #23: In a Flash, Camera Dealers Feel the Web’s Wrath – New York Times: The New York Times today published a good expose on the recent PriceRitePhoto issue. It would appear that they are pretty much out of business at this point with mail stacking up at the door of their address which the owner won’t pick up according to a handyman at the building because he owes money.

“On Nov. 29, Mr. Hawk posted a 2,333-word complaint about Price Rite Photo on his Web site, describing hard sales tactics and threats. By 2 a.m. the next day, this dispute over a $3,000 camera was an enormously popular topic of discussion online, casting Mr. Hawk in the timeless role of the outraged underdog.

Internet gunslingers tend to shoot first and ask lots of questions while shooting, so the attacks on Price Rite came quickly and with much discussion. Some bragged of tying up the company’s phone lines, others of flooding its Web site with excess traffic. It is unclear whether that tactic worked.

“The world of blogs is such an echo chamber that, a few places pick it up, you literally are generating tons of traffic,” said Lee Holmes, 28, who posted similar complaints on his own site from his home near Seattle.

There were conscientious objectors, too. One discussion participant anonymously wrote, “This is vigilante justice; there are proper channels to deal with this.”

After reading Mr. Hawk’s complaints, Yahoo! Shopping blocked Price Rite from its service, according to Sabrina Crider, a spokeswoman for the company. Mr. Hawk quickly declared victory, and online discussion forums with names like Digg filed the story under headlines like “Digg Users Take Revenge at Bad Online Store.”

But the episode was not complete for Mr. Wiss, whose photographs of Brooklyn buildings had been mentioned in Mr. Hawk’s rant under the headline “Update #20.”

On Dec. 14, Mr. Wiss said, he received several calls accusing him of putting stores out of business and threatening him with death. He said the threats were all bluster, but he reported the calls to the police and adamantly refused to allow photographs of his face for this article. He said he hopes to trace the calls if they continue.

At the warehouse in Sunset Park, Mr. Colon, the handyman, had his own ideas about the whereabouts of Price Rite and its proprietor.

“He owes me money,” Mr. Colon said, explaining that he was never paid for moving an air-conditioner. “That’s why he doesn’t come here to pick up the mail.””

Update #24: Yesterday I received an email from an individual identifying himself as Gabe Heffez from A. Heffco Technologies. Mr. Heffez seemed somewhat distraught over the fact that in my reporting on PriceRitePhoto that his company and companies had been erroneously identified as being associated with PriceRitePhoto. In my reporting on my experience with PriceRitePhoto I had identified A. Heffco Technologies as possibly being associated with PriceRitePhoto based on a report that linked the two from the Better Business Bureau of New York. I was first made aware of this report and connection from CNET’s David Bricker when he pointed me to the BBB report when I first began reporting on PriceRitePhoto and included my first mention of A. Heffco Technologies based on this report.

Contrary to this report from the BBB Mr. Heffez wrote me yesterday saying, “our company is in no way related to PriceRitePhoto,” he added, “we don’t know who C&A; Marketing is or who Ideal Photo Video is. We have sent dozens of faxes and made numerous phone calls to the BBB to correct the issue so far to no avail.” Mr. Heffez further went on in a subsequent email to say, “This (action) caused us to reap the wrath of the public and our own advertisers. In early-mid December, our host, Yahoo! also terminated our stores and three of our personal ID’s without explanation. A seven year relationship was ended in the blink of an eye.” Mr. Heffez also said that CNET dropped them as well and added, “your David vs. Goliath blog unfortunately turned into our instant termination. We all have families to feed and this past Christmas our job was that much harder.”

In response to Mr. Heffez’s claims of not being associated with PriceRitePhoto I have been in contact with Tony Barbera, Manager of Information and Investigations with the BBB serving Metropolitan NY expressing my concerns over having possibly hurt an innocent company based on a potential wrongful association on the part of the BBB. Mr. Barbera, who was aware of the coverage that this story received yesterday by the New York Times told me that the company’s report has been suspended pending further results of an investigation. “I was contaced by Mr. Heffez yesterday, and we will be working with the companies in order to establish correct and complete records for each entity if it is determined they are separate,” wrote Mr. Barbera.

Millions of people each day turn to the Better Business Burea and rely on the accuracy of the information that they provide for making informed decisions regarding their purchases and which merchants they will do business with. The integrity of their information regarding merchants is super important. If in fact the BBB has erroneously linked PriceRitePhoto and Mr. Heffez’s company then I would be very personally disappointed to have hurt an innocent unrelated company. Mr. Heffez has informed me that over the past few weeks his phone lines have been ringing off the hook with nothing on the other end but hang ups or music and has told me that he is pretty sure that his sites have been bombarded with worthless traffic in an attempt to crash them.

I suspect that this story will be developing and hope to have more conclusive findings one way or the other shortly — but in the event that the information linking his company and their affiliates to PriceRitePhoto was incorrectly reported by the BBB, I apologize and am truly sorry for any role that I and my blogging may have had in hurting his business.

PriceRitePhoto Update #25: Last week I reported on a company Heffco possibly being erroneously connected with my reporting on PriceRitePhoto based on a report by the New York BBB.

I have received the following email back from Tony Barbera, Manager of the Information and Investigations Divsion of the BBB New York:

“Just letting you know our reports on PriceRitePhoto and PricesRite have been re-released and are listed as separate entities. Take a look, and let me know if you have any questions.”

PricesRite is still associated with Let’s Go Digital and ultimately also A. Heffco Technologies with a fairly negative BBB rating, but it is no longer associated per the BBB New York with PriceRitePhoto, the o
utfit that I had my run in with. It sounds like while distancing the companies, the BBB still is not willing to change the overall rating of Let’s Go Digital and that the unrelated complaints against them are still standing.

PriceRitePhoto is now listed as an affilate of C&A; Marketing, with a “Howard Baker” as it’s president. Interesting and suprisingly to me they only have three complaints filed with the BBB against them.

I received the following email from Gabe Heffez of Heffco, on the matter at hand: “Thank you for your help with the BBB. Although they still don’t have our information 100% correct, they have removed associations with priceritephoto and company. We will continue to write them and fax them the correct information so they can get it completely right. Thank you for the quick response and corrections on your side.”

and then a second email:

“Funny, I just checked again and it looks like we inherited all of their customer disputes. I checked their page and looks like they are a pretty clean cut company. The BBB has got to get their act together. We will continue to work on it.”

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628 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    After this blog getting s front page link on Slashdot, I dont think they will be ripping anybody off again.

    I do beleive that about a milion people have got the word out about this company, and apparently the buzz about it has succeded in causing an accidental Denial Of Service situation with ther website.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fotoconnection.com – same story for me, last year with a camera lens.

  3. dalas v. says:

    hahaha! i used to live near the address of that store. that’s little jerusalem, dog, the only thing i’d buy there is some fucking FLEISCHMANS KOSHER SUSHI!!!

    New York City is pure evil. never trust anyone from there.

  4. Kakashi says:

    Damn! thats just brutal… eBay is pretty much the same thing… this online store deserve some beating…

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was looking at buying a Nikon digital SLR and during the price comparison process, I checked out the prices at Froogle. The cheapest of the stores at Froogle were all listed as stores in Brooklyn, NY and surprisingly, many were next door neighbors if the addresses are to be believed. I was suspicious that there were 3 camera stores in the same block on the same street, so I called one of them. I verified their physical address but since I live in Seattle I couldn’t go there to see them. So I asked them what retailer was next door. The guy on the phone could not answer this question. He said, “we are in an office building, I don’t know who is next door.” I found this highly unbelievable so I hung up, paid more to get a camera from B&H; Photo who I had done business with before and was completely happy.

  6. Sprudeln says:

    I ordered a dual deck VCR for my parents a few years ago as a Christmas gift. They were the only ones to claim it was in stock, so I ordered in the beginning of November. I live outside of the US so I had them send it to my sister’s work address (a public high school). They couldn’t find the address in the phone book(!), so they refused to send it there. Family friends all have unlisted phone numbers – same problem. I eventually had to have it sent to my mom’s place of work. When it didn’t arrive for Christmas, I tried to cancel the order (I had to purchase something else on Christmas Eve), but they refused to cancel it. The player arrived in March (yes – 5 months after it was orderd); I tried to return it, but they refused to take delivery of it. Now I buy expensive items or things I need quickly from brick and mortar stores.

    Oh yeah, and don’t buy from CaimanAmerika on Amazon – they don’t ship orders, either. I ordered three books but only received two. They state that they have no way to know that I didn’t get the order. At least that was only a $15 mistake…

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is the email I received from CNET NY..

    “Discussion Thread
    Response (Annie) 12/01/2005 11:09 PM
    Hello,

    Thank you for writing and bringing this to our attention. We are truly sorry the merchant you shopped from hasn’t provided you with adequate assistance. We have forwarded your message to our Customer Service Manager who will investigate this issue further with the merchant to ensure that they provide a quality service to our users.

    We appreciate the time you have taken to notify us of the service you have received from this merchant. We do value and monitor customer feedback. When we are made aware of a continual pattern of unsatisfactory customer service from a merchant listed on our site, they are removed.

    Please let us know if we may be of further assistance.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Next time anyone has problems with an online camera store just send them the link to Thomas Hawk’s blog. That should clear up any problems pretty quick. If not, just follow Thomas’s example.

  9. Anonymous says:

    amazing!! my mother had the SAME ISSUE with steve philips of price rite photos a few months ago!!

    good job! 😀

  10. Ernest de León says:

    This think blew up just about as big as it possibly could have on this thief. To have paid all those people all that money or given them all those accessories to buy his ratings, to have opened all of the mirror sites and done the same thing….expending all of that money to build his rip-off empire, then have it all come crashing down in 24 hours is almost enough to make me have an orgasm. I wish I could be there in person in front of him taunting him as he realizes that his entire life is now gone. He isn’t worthless, now he has negative worth. This is, of course, aside from the fact that the authorities are going to pursue him soon. All I wish is that the local police pick him up and book him in time to prevent him from trying to leave the country. I hope the legal system makes an example out of this guy and bends him over the bench with no vaseline. GO DIGG!!!

  11. Sylvian says:

    All I can say is that you made my day!
    As you said very nicely many people have been/will be in this situation.

    Although you have been lucky to get such attention (and you deserved it!) it is unlickely it will happen again anytime soon.

    But at least you gave me the inspiration to complain publically of a scam I believe I may have been the victim, for more details:
    http://www.maplefrog.com/?p=111

    In a nutshell: There might be a UK Residential Letting Scam. I recently moved house and was charged £311 for Checkout and cleaning fees. When my partner and I cleaned the house thoroughly for 4 days!!!

    I am not excepting your success or to get my money back really. But seeing you posting your story, made me realise that if you don’t try you will never get anything anyway!!!

    Unlike you, I am expecting nasty call after I complaint (i.e.: tomorrow from the letting agency and the checkout company).

    Which brings me to a last point, wouldn’t it be nice to have a central place/blog where people could complains online about scam they were victim of? Or maybe it already exists… Or by looking at most of the comments (including mine) people are now using *your* site to reveal their scam issues! 😉

    Very well done!
    As I said, you made my day!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, they’re still a seller on Ebay, but note the “149 feedback mutually withdrawn”.
    This is usually a sign that the seller has either resolved the problem (but 149 problems out of 5000?), or blackmailed the buyer with a negative on the buyer’s own feedback.
    It’s happened to me.
    Beenthere.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thought you would find this page of interest. I see that the only negative feedback is being investigated and the rest of the reviews appear to 100% address all of the negative issues with the company. They also share the same language and perfect grammar/punctuation. Highly suspect despite the fact that they came from resellerratings.com. I suspect that this is a highly organized scam and that legal action, if brought, would uncover alot more shady activity.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thought you would find this page of interest:

    http://www.pricerunner.com/retailer/14312/reviews/3

    I see that the only negative feedback is being investigated and the rest of the reviews appear to 100% address all of the negative issues with the company. They also share the same language and perfect grammar/punctuation. Highly suspect despite the fact that they came from resellerratings.com. I suspect that this is a highly organized scam and that legal action, if brought, would uncover alot more shady activity.

  15. Anonymous says:

    EBay, for all of their faults, takes a dim view of feedback extortion since feedback is such an integral part of EBay’s success. The $100 charge that Price Rite et al attempt to charge for negative feedback is a gross violation of EBay TOS. Anyone who has experienced this should report the violation to EBay.

    I have never seen a merchant with 149 mutually withdrawn feedbacks before. That is a very, very bad sign of possible extortion.

  16. artr says:

    I wanted to buy a Casio exilim camera about 6 weeks ago. They had the best price. I saw some bad reviews so I called them to verify. Salesman confirmed the price, and in stock availability that could ship that same day. Then he asked me what kind of memory card did I want, my options seemed to be the overpriced one or the really overpriced one. I politely declined both. Then it was the battery. Told him it came with the battery as per the Casio web site. He said ‘not this one’ and proceeded to suggest a battery again. Then I asked what exactly they were selling me and he indicated that it was just the camera, no USB dock, no retail package. When I asked some more questions I got, “hold on” and was put on hold. When he came back I asked another question, and again “hold on”. After a couple more of these, he hung up.
    End of my attempt to deal with them.

  17. diana says:

    I almost bought a Nikon D70 from A&M; Photo several months ago — it was listed at an amazingly low price, and I almost went through with the transaction. Luckily, I checked Google before I hit the Submit button, and I found dozens of dissatisfied customers with the exact same bait-and-switch issues as you’ve described.

    I still don’t have a Nikon DSLR, but at least I didn’t get jerked around, I suppose.

  18. Dead Guy says:

    I think you have done the public a service in your actions and reportage on this. Not to mention the fact that the dammage such companies do to legitimate online retailers. I even worked for a small ISP-Computer shop that had an online store. After we were bought out, by a straight up ISP only operation. About a year leter, I (last of the old guys) got called into the COO’s office, one afternoon, over a complaint about the old “out of business actually, on-line site. It seems the web guys never knew about it and so never deleted the site. It seems that some one had placed an order and since no one was “Minding The Store”, we didn’t even know the site was still up, much less that the ordering mechanism was still in place and operating. The COO’s instructions were short and simple, “Fill the order at cost and get it done ASAP if not today.” So, yes I got it done “today” at cost that was far less than the the advertised price. The web guys even updated the site to show it was closed and ofering to fill any other out standing orders also at cost. I think that sort of top down attitude is the way any online business should be opperated.

  19. RC says:

    * this is not legal advice from a lawyer, contacct one on your own*

    I have to say that cause i am in law school and can get in trouble with the bar if i don’t.

    That being said if you live in texas you can punish this guy for a breach of contract suit. Texas is special cause you get to recover attorney’s fees in contract suits, but if they do business on the internet i am betting you can pull them into court here.

    Anyways most attorney’s offices will at least hear you out for free, so if you are still upset i would go talk to somebody. Sounds like they do this stuff alot which would open the door to a very big lawsuit.

  20. Anonymous says:

    ExpressCamera.com is no better. I wanted to buy a Nikon D70 professional package for $999.99 and when I went to confirm my order I was told that the price would be $1299.99 because of the extras that I would need. I hope not all internet sales are scams. I have lost faith in internet buying and this was the first and only time I have or will try to buy online.

  21. Anonymous says:

    P.S. to the ExpressCamera.com comment. The sales person on the other end of the phone was named Scott. After arguing with him for about 20 minutes, I ask to speak to his boss. He said he was the head supervisor for sales. I said you have to have a boss. He said his boss was God. Very errogant, little creep. He finally after about a 15 minute hold came back on the line and gave me a name of someone I could talk to tommorrow. I didn’t wait. I called to leave a message while my memory was still fresh. I’m glad I did. The voice mail answered and the voice of that same little punk came on. He was trying to side step me. I called him back and said to cancel my order. I hope his boss (God) gives him what he deserves when the time comes.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Crazy. Thanks alot Thomas for getting this out in the open. I couldn’t believe the nerve of those guys. War David beating Goliath every time. Peace…..

    Oh, and furrybut1, take your teeny-bopper potty mouth right back to your Daddy’s house and try to make something useful out of your life.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I had simliar experiences back in 2000 trying to buy a digital camera. Most camera shops in NY are just like this. They all try to sell you stuff that you don’t want and when you refuse to buy they don’t ship your product. You should report them to Yahoo.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe the amount of people taking the risk of buying (or in most cases trying to buy) very expensive electronic equipment online from very shady retailers.

    Comments like “I kinda knew it was too good to be true but the price was great” are common. How ignorant can you be? Retailers have to pay a certain price for a product to distributors or manufacurers and margins on electronic equipment are generally quite low. So if a certain store advertises agressively with a price that is much lower than ANY other store there must be a catch.

    Risking 3000 $ for the slight chance of saving a few hundred? I know i wouldn’t..

    Where I live (The Netherlands) there have been several examples of this, always with very popular state of the art electronics.

    For example, brand new Ipod’s and navigation systems were offered on a certain website for ridiculously low prices.
    I’ve read several comments of people on forums who ordered it saying they don’t believe it’s possible yet still paid IN ADVANCE.. Not one not two but thousands have done the same.

    I have no sympathy with them whatsoever because greedy idiots like that are the main reason scammers exist in the first place.

  25. Bassguy says:

    Jesus… too many comments. Who is going to read this shit?

  26. Anonymous says:

    nice tip, that scam tool works !

  27. lewiston1 says:

    Don’t know how I got here but just spent 2 hours reading this from top to bottom. It’s HOT

  28. Ross Dawson says:

    An important question to ask: is this mob justice? I personally don’t doubt the veracity of Thomas’s tale, and that he has done many a favor by spreading word widely. Yet this is a power that can be abused. This does not mean that stories of poor treatment by companies shouldn’t be shouted from the rooftops. It does mean that companies need to be ready to exercise the right to response. Blogging is a powerful weapon that stacks the odds. For more commentary on this see:
    http://www.rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2005/12/business_transp.html

  29. Anonymous says:

    LOL – this is posted at PriceRitePhoto now:

    “For those of you who tried to contact us in the past few days, we would like to apologize for any inconvenience that you may have incurred. Our website was down for maintenance and we are back up and fully operational. If you have placed an order with us please be assured that it will be shipped in a timely manner. Happy Holidays.”

    Down for maintenance – too funny!

  30. Anonymous says:

    I HAD A GOOD EXPERIANCE WITH PRICERITEPHOTO.COM!

    I had a personal experience with priceritephoto.com not too long ago(before the thomashawk thing) that I would like to share. Basically, One could say I actually had a good experience with priceritephoto.com …

    All right – I only say I had a great experience because I received an apparently brand new working camera at a very very low price… and I received it in 4 days (even though they told me it would take 5-7). That sounds like a great experience, right? So far it has been …

    My Purchasing Story:
    After checking yahoo shopping, I saw that I could purchase the camera at a very low price. Priceritephoto.com’s rating was 4.5 out of 5 and they had a lot of reviews, so without checking I (stupidly) went out to purchase from them. They were listed in yahoo shopping… that’s a reliable source, right? I checked out the website and then called in over the phone to get the free camera bag that they were offering with phone orders. They were very helpful and although they asked if I wanted a bunch of extra stuff… they didn’t push me to buy anything. We did decide to buy an extra battery and I received my entire purchase at a very low price.

    A little while after my purchase (and before this thomas hawk thing) I was bored so I thought I’d read some of the reviews left for priceritephoto.com. It is then that I learned what the term “grey market” meant… and it is then that I found many many negative comments about priceritephoto.com and saw pictures of their store front. I did a lot of research, called the camera manufacturer to inquire about “grey markets” and priceritephoto.com. I was so scared about my stupid purchase that I had trouble getting to sleep at night. However, I decided to stick it out and see if I actually got my camera because it appeared that even some of the customers who left bad yahoo reviews for priceritephoto.com seemed to always work it out right in the end.

    Four days later, I received my camera and everything was brand new and works great. For those of you saying that it was a bad idea to purchase from them, you are right. I consider myself to be lucky with my experience so far. I am even still confident that something is not right. Will the camera break in its first week or two of use? Is it actually stolen or from a grey market? I intend to find out they answers to these questions as soon as I can.

  31. Paul says:

    From the current PriceRitePhoto front page (my emphasis):

    “For those of you who tried to contact us in the past few days, we would like to apologize for any inconvenience that you may have incurred. Our website was down for maintenance and we are back up and fully operational.”

    God, they just can’t stop lying can they? It must be like breathing for them.

    P.

    http://oceanclub.blogspot.com

  32. Anonymous says:

    Be sure to check out http://www.badcorp.org

    they have alot of companies

  33. Hugh says:

    Eddy thank you for your mistake for in doing so you have opened a can of rotten worms so fetid that I can smell them from where I am sitting and thats almost 3,000 miles away.

    This company almost got an order from me but luckly I thought if it seams too good to be true than it probably is and so left it well alone no matter how tempted.

    To the man/men/people running this company.
    you are vermin! you think that you can rob/trick/extort hard working people from what they have earned through sweat and blood and get away with it. Wrong!
    if the police dont get you and if you and your conscious does no better when you least expect it it will come and when it does don’t bother saying my god, why me!

  34. Hugh says:

    Eddy thank you for your mistake for in doing so you have opened a can of rotten worms so fetid that I can smell them from where I am sitting and thats almost 3,000 miles away.

    This company almost got an order from me but luckly I thought if it seams too good to be true than it probably is and so left it well alone no matter how tempted.

    To the man/men/people running this company.
    you are vermin! you think that you can rob/trick/extort hard working people from what they have earned through sweat and blood and get away with it. Wrong!
    if the police dont get you and if you and your conscious does no better when you least expect it it will come and when it does don’t bother saying my god, why me!

  35. Anonymous says:

    This company and many others are owned by the same person. They use Heffco as thier parent company. Thet sell Audio
    and other electronics.
    Do a search for Heffco and see what pops up.

  36. Anonymous says:

    if you look through their ebay feedback, there’s a lot, A LOT, of negative feedback that has been “mutually withdrawn”. I assume because PriceRite threatened negative feedback in return. These guys should be run out of business IMHO

  37. Anonymous says:

    Before everyone bad mouths every shop in NY/NYC, B&H; Photo and Video (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/) is a reputable operation with a real, physical store front you can walk in to and try the stuff before buying it, which I have done a couple of times now. Knowledgable staff. Friends that have bought online have been happy too.

    So please don’t paint all NYC camera shops the same.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I dont think they are so bad!
    can i ask an honest q.
    how many of you bloggers have ever bought something from price rite photo ?
    because one guy had a bad experince it does nit mean he is all bad, BTW C&A; markting is a major B & H Photo supplier, so you guys keep on prasising BH Photo, you should know that if he is good for BH Photo he is good enough for you, but then again this whole thing is only based on revenge and by people who have a lot of time on their hand, so they are not intresting to hear only bad things because the good is no news,
    so i just added my 2 cents worth
    BTW i am a professional photographer in Hartford CT and i have safe full of Canon Lenses and 10d’s and 20D’s that i all picked up at Price Rite Photo

  39. Anonymous says:

    BHPhoto is reputable, but don’t go there for service.

  40. Tim says:

    Totally nuts! I Wont be ordering there, glad your point got put accross,

  41. Anonymous says:

    Thomas, you saved my cookies by going public in such an effective way. Thank you.

    I found this story just in time. I had just placed an order 48 hours prior with a different Brooklyn-based too-good-to-be-true priced retailer WAWADIGITAL.COM and had experienced my first ‘confirmation call’ The upsell attempt was not high pressure, but they tried to sell me a discounted extended life battery for over $50 (the camera in question uses AA cells. I knew it was BS, but kept it polite.

    Later the same day I heard the Diggnation podcast mention the PriceRitePhoto story and a went to the Digg.com site and clicked through to here.

    Following advice I read in the comments I googled “WAWADIGITAL + scam” and found much the same sort of fraud & abuse stories about them on a bunch of other feedback sites.

    Next, I called my credit card customer service line, confirmed that the charge had not yet been made, blocked charges from that merchant and ordered a replacement card (killing the number).

    Finally I sent the email below to WAWADIGITAL cancelling my order. I include it here because I thought some of you might be amused by the tone of it. Not included here is a photo I pasted in of their physical location…

    http://donwiss.com/pictures/BrooklynStores/h0062.htm

    …which also came up on the Google search. The site contains photos of dozens of current and former Brooklyn Camera shop addreses — an interesting clue to their legitimacy (or lasck thereof).

    By the way, others posting to this site have recommended B&H; and J&R.; I can confirm that they are both large honest companies with knowledgeable staff and above board business practices.

    17th St Photo is another, but in many cases has slightly better prices due to the Avis effect (they’re a little smaller).

    I just moved out of NYC last month and my office is on the same block as 17th St Photo. They are for real, and just like B&H; serve many pro photographers in NYC on a walk-in basis.

    —– Original Message —–
    To: sales@wawadigital.com
    Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 6:38 AM
    Subject: Re: Order Confirmation – cancel

    The transaction below (your order # xxxxxx) has been blocked with Visa. You may consider the order cancelled with this notice.

    The confirmation phone call used to up-sell overpriced and unnecessary accessories raised an alarm with me and I have since researched your company name and found many complaints about your business practices. I have also ordered a replacement for the Visa card used, so don’t bother selling the cardholder info, it’s already deactivated.

    For more information about the web-community’s growing awareness of, and reaction to, Brooklyn-based third-tier camera merchants you can look here:

    http://thomashawk.com/2005/11/priceritephoto-abusive-bait-and-switch.html

    For a look at your own company’s public reputation you can check these examples, which are typical:

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff145583.htm
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff149517.htm
    http://www.leeholmes.com/blog/CustomerServiceAtWaWaDigitalImGoingToBreakYourNeck.aspx
    http://www.resellerratings.com/seller9573.html

    Etcetera. There is a lot more of this sort of thing on all the search engines (60 on Google alone).

    The economics behind your business model make sense, but is short-sighted and ultimately self defeating. You are also lowering your own quality of life by living as though other people are worthless and only exist for you to take advantage of. Besides showing a lack of imagination (is this really the most satisfying thing you can come up with you spend your life on?), you are spending 24×7 with a dishonest person you has a very sad outlook on the value of life.

    I’ve run an honest business for 25 years. In the beginning it’s harder than fooling people or stealing, but much more satisfying when it succeeds. In the end it pays a lot better too.

    I don’t imagine you get many letters like this one. Because I managed to pull the plug on this situation before suffering any personal harm, I can address myself to you without anger. But more and more people are watching what you are doing, and it’s reasonable to expect not everyone else’s reaction can be counted on to be as dispassionate as mine.

    I hope you manage to find your way to a more worthwhile existence sooner than later. In that, at least, I can wish you good luck.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Don’t know if its been mentioned, but always check a new reseller. The best comprehensive review site I found is http://www.resellerratings.com/ I sometimes can laugh at the stories people tell of how these guys will keep trying different scams.

  43. .::| M |::. says:

    Another way that internet stores get people to post positive feedback is they will waive the shipping cost for the item for feedback ahead of time. This very thing happened to me, and the first camera I got turned out to be quite a lemon, but after enough hassle they replaced it in a reasonable amount of time. Luckily I didn’t fall into this PriceRite snake pit.

  44. Anonymous says:

    DAMN! YOU SERIOUSLY ROKK! Justice for the “little guy”. What an inspiration!

  45. Anonymous says:

    I work a nyc mailorder co. We dont bait and switch but we do advertise our prices to a point where we cant ship the product unless an accessory is bought with it or we lose money. Is this wrong? Yes. But the business got so competitive.. Imageine if all of us small stores have the same price as bestbuy and amazon etc. we wouldnt get a sale.. Truth is after you buy the camera with an accessory or 2, you still end up paying less than at your local bestbuy or circuit city. We wish the business never became like this, but thats where it is and we have to make a living somehow. We dont rip anyone off, and we dont steal. We just cant ship a camera when were losing 50 dollars on it. At the same time we cant tell customers this so we just say its out of stock if they refuse any accessories.

    Open up your newspaper go to the first car dealer ad, and lease a 2005 lexus for $199/month..

    Realize this, if your shopping for a camera that cost $600 at you local bestbuy and someone online is selling it for $350, than theres gotta be a catch. The catch is buy a case, a memory card, rechargeable batteries,,, whatever,, just get something, you need a case for the camera, you need a memory card.. If not you will end up buying the camera alone for more money at a reputable place, and still need a case, memory card, etc..

    Happy Shopping and Happy Holiday’s to all.

  46. Al says:

    Read it all sounded very familiar. I had the same experience on a Minolta DiMage Z6 with wawadigital (batteries then memory then warranty said it didn’t come with any, not even the manufacturer….). I really have to wonder if all these Brooklyn shops are just different phone numbers to the same boiler room.

    I looked back at the vendor I tried “wawadigital” (should of known). I couldn’t find the price compare that I used, but I found this.
    http://www.resellerratings.com/seller_rating_history.pl?id=9573

    Should of done it earlier. They rate just above absolute zero.

    Ended up getting our Minolta DiMage Z6 at CostCo.

    Thanks for picking up the torch for all of us.

    Al

  47. jrfk2 says:

    Hate to be a wet blanket, but I got a camcorder from these guys, ordered 11/25 and received following wednesday. Yeah I got the package deal but what I was offered was a good deal IMHO, all went well except extra battery not as good as promised, supposedly they are sending another to make up for it.

  48. Anonymous says:

    jrfk2, you’re not being a wet blanket your experience is support that this stores policies will only help those who buy extra stuff from them. If you had not gotten the package deal do you really think you would have had a different experience vs. the many others who have had problems with the store?

  49. jrfk2 says:

    Yeah, thats what makes me think I had a narrow escape, buying the package deal, as I don’t normally / always get those .. but I needed tapes and an extra battery anyway and my recent luck with electronics has made me more open to extended waranties …

    I did get the extra battery in the mail ..

  50. Anonymous says:

    It has already hit the autosurf for cash websites industry 4daily.com is one such site. He stole thousands of money from users and threatens people who call him a scam artist just like what happend to ya camra folks.

  51. Anonymous says:

    I would not have any thing repaired by geeksquad. They charge higher at the Augusta, GA one compared to what is stated on website. They refused to fix a pc with a simple disk in the computer and only wanted to put a downgraded OS on the system. WHat a bunch of rip off

  52. Anonymous says:

    Geek squad is one rip off

  53. DHB Photography says:

    Thank you for all the information; I will avoid them. You should write a review on Alexa!

    http://info.alexa.com/data/details?amzn_id=dhbphotography-20&p;=TBSIPopup_T_g_40_L1&url;=http://www.priceritephoto.com/priceritephoto/index.asp?CartId={C0027CF0-9C0EVERESTA-4350-A29B-31DEF953EB17}

  54. DHB Photography says:

    New info: Found out they use an AOL account. I dont have AOL so I can not see the profile. May beable to find some more information out. Their email is priceritephoto@aol.com

  55. ian says:

    wow this is some of the most infuriating stuff ive read ever, that camera shop better be begging after the suing has ended and they should suffer, no joke

  56. Murray M. says:

    Aviod at all costs — any dealers in Brooklyn, Boro Park or related areas. The majority of them are scam artists and con men. Complaining to the attorney general of NY’s office will do you no good, as these scam artists are Hasidic Jews, who have a huge political power over the politics of New York City. Buy your electronics at trusted dealers, not off the back of a stationwagon parked in the driveway of a mock “temple”.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Prestige Camera is affiliated with Priceritephoto. They are rude,conniving, evil and I should have known better. I cancelled an order, got yelled at and hung up on. I cancelled my credit card they had to prevent any problems. I hope they get caught.

  58. Concerning the nyc mailorder employee who posted earlier, I don’t think it’s wrong to offer competitive prices in an effort to grab buyers’s attention but it is unethical not to advertise that it is a special price that is only included with package deals. Obviously if somebody is offering anything at half off the average retail price, something must be amiss but most buyers would be willing to forgo caveat emptor warnings for the sake of their own wallet. It’s true that buyers should be cautious when purchasing but it doesn’t discount the ethical responsibility of the seller to make their position clear. I’d happily pay for a package deal if I knew what it was before I tried buying it. I feel that most retailers feel some sort of ethical immunity trying to use competitive pricing as an excuse for underhanded marketing techniques. Retailers who feel trapped do retaliate and often do so at the expense of the very people that do support their products. After all, pricerite’s tactics only encourage buyers to do research before purchasing and everybody who does any sort of research will never purchase from them. They may only be in business for the short run but they are hurting the principles through which e-commerce should be thriving under.

    As far as Jrfk2’s comment, I admire your courage to tell a positive story about pricerite but I wonder what will happen if your camera breaks and you try and honor their warrenty agreement.

  59. Concerning the nyc mailorder employee who posted earlier, I don’t think it’s wrong to offer competitive prices in an effort to grab buyers’s attention but it is unethical not to advertise that it is a special price that is only included with package deals. Obviously if somebody is offering anything at half off the average retail price, something must be amiss but most buyers would be willing to forgo caveat emptor warnings for the sake of their own wallet. It’s true that buyers should be cautious when purchasing but it doesn’t discount the ethical responsibility of the seller to make their position clear. I’d happily pay for a package deal if I knew what it was before I tried buying it. I feel that most retailers feel some sort of ethical immunity trying to use competitive pricing as an excuse for underhanded marketing techniques. Retailers who feel trapped do retaliate and often do so at the expense of the very people that do support their products. After all, pricerite’s tactics only encourage buyers to do research before purchasing and everybody who does any sort of research will never purchase from them. They may only be in business for the short run but they are hurting the principles through which e-commerce should be thriving under.

    As far as Jrfk2’s comment, I admire your courage to tell a positive story about pricerite but I wonder what will happen if your camera breaks and you try and honor their warrenty agreement.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Ross Dawson – Yes, this is justice. This is the closest thing to Internet justice there is. It may seem like a mob scene but if pricerite’s padding comments on cnet and other price comparison websites, as well as using their internet anonymity by making threatening phone calls and exploiting the amount of information is gathered through online purchases such as calling your boss and threatening police action at your house, then this comment flood is what we have to retaliate with. My only concern is that commenting on a blog’s not enough. We need to exploit this power as far as it can go so that pricerite wannabe retailers don’t think that they can get away with this bullshit. What other course of retaliation do we have? Notifying the BBB? Notifying the attorny general? This battle’s between e-tailers and tech-literate shoppers. Joe Schmoe on the street might just treat this as a bad experience. He’ll cancel his card and buy his camera from a more reputable dealer. It’s not going to stop Jack Schmoe from buying from them. We need to show that this kind of business practice is not only not effective but hurtful. That’s why jurors award punitive damages.

  61. Great story. Thanks for sharing. Its great to see that a group of online bloggers, working together, can persuade the big companies out there to take action and remove this awful company from their sites and stop all affiliations with them. Thanks, it really made my day.

    –Chad
    http://www.playvortex.com
    http://www.toolblast.com
    http://www.chamberofgold.com

  62. I just had nearly the same experience with Best Price Cameras (http://www.bestpricecameras.com).

    Here’s an email I received from them:


    Thank you for placing your order with http://www.bestpricecameras.com Please call us to confirm your order.

    1800-281-1823 X.240 (Within US)
    1718-998-7986 X.240 (Outside US)

    david

    http://www.bestpricecameras.com

    Mon-Thur 9:30am – 8:30pm EST
    Fri 9:30am – 6:00pm
    Sun 10am – 6:00pm

    When I called to confirm my order, I asked for “David”. (There is no David.)

    They gave me the hard upsell on batteries, memory and the like. When I declined, I was told that my order would arrive in 3-6 weeks, even AFTER the site said the camera was in-stock and I paid for 2nd-day air delivery.

    I wasn’t going to deal with them.

    I said, “Yeah, I know this game. Cancel my order. I’m going to call American Express and dispute the charge.”

    His response? “Good luck finding one a**hole.”

    I can’t believe these guys don’t get busted for these practices.

  63. Rachel says:

    Could DigitalFuze.com also be the same company? I had an almost identical situation with this company and also learned of a few other alias’: Best Buy Digital, a.k.a. Circuit Digital, d.b.a. circuitdigital.com, sourcefordigital.com, oneclickdigital.com, a.k.a. Digital Fuze & Digitalfotoclub.com.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Damn the man. Way to go.

  65. Greg says:

    Regular employees aren’t fired at board meetings..this guy was yanking your chain.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I have similar experience with several New York Camera Dealers… ROYAL CAMERA, for ex.
    When I placed an order for the Canon Rebel XT plus 2 leanses, on line, I received an email to call them… I was talked into buying a more expensive long lense and the Rebel XT kit (with a wide angle lense included). They also tried to sell me many other accessories, which I declined.
    I received the 2 lenses, however, no camera. The order for Rebel Xt with kit was split. This was two months ago. I have been calling them every week but each time, they tried to sell me the camera with other accessaries. When I declined, they told me that the body only was backordered, although the camera was still shown “in stock” on their website (even right now). I also called the Sales Department to see if this camera body only was in stock and available for shipping the next day, they would confirm that. But as soon as I told them I did not need the other accessories, then they immediately either hung up or told me it was out of stock. Fortunately, I was charged only for the two lenses.
    I tried to call a few other stores, and came across exactly the same thing.
    I mentioned this to my Camera Club and a club member sent me your link. Thank you for drawing the attention of this type of scam to the appropriate agents that at least PriceRitePhoto was exposed. Too bad that there are still many of similar scams and crooks out there. Jan

  67. Anonymous says:

    AMAZING! Haven’t you people learned that every corrupt russian, middle-eastern, israeli, vietnamese, korean, and other 3rd-world rejects come to NYC just to scam clueless Americans??!! Look at the NYC cab drivers! Look at the knock-off joints on times square and canal st. Take it from me “If it looks to good to be true… it probably is!!!”

    Look at the guy who runs PriceRitePhoto (et al)… His first name was “Chaim”. Duh!!! That should have been your first clue to dig deeper. Then the mailing address was in or near NYC! Jeez!

    I do not know one serious photog that purchases big-ticket photog-equip over the internet or even mailorder. Most will only go to walk-in places to touch-n-feel. Maybe go to Wal-Mart after T-Giving, XMAS, or inventory time. WM has a really good line up of big-brandname cams for decent prices already. What’s wrong with Target, Circuit City, etc.? Their prices are not all that bad. Plus their return and warranty policies ain’t as bad as PriceRite Photo…

    How many “real” Americans would call a customer and threaten with calls to their boss, CEO, police, FBI, etc? Come on only a stupid 3rd-world-reject from his “police-state” dictatorship would think that gestapo-like tactics like this also apply to USA. I mean what customer service person even calls a customer and have a non-standard conversation peppered with idle threats and colorful metaphors? How many CSD’s actually even call customers at all? Remember real corporate CSD’s are in Bangelore India today (i.e. offshore outsourcing)!!! Therefore if your particular CSD person doesn’t have an annoying Hindi accent then… 🙂

    I think that buyer’s “common sense” should be the order of the day here.

    Caveat Emptor!

    PS – One of you stunads’ blamed the “mafia”? Will you get a friggin’ clue… dat’ aint der’ bag dude! Actually if a guy in a black leather coat with a vowel in his last name offers you a good deal on a camera dat’ “fell off of da’ back of a truck”… I assure you it will be a very very cheap deal. I mean his name will be something like “Paulie Walnuts” from “Jorsey” and he will offer the same $3,300 camera for a coupla’ “C-notes” – okay maybe at least a “yard” – in a NY minute! However, no warranty, no returns, no receipts, etc. Also there will be no brick and mortar address nor any CSD division… ;->

  68. Anonymous says:

    “Murray M. said…
    Aviod at all costs — any dealers in Brooklyn, Boro Park or related areas. The majority of them are scam artists and con men… these scam artists are Hasidic Jews, who have a huge political power over the politics of New York City. Buy your electronics at trusted dealers, not off the back of a stationwagon parked in the driveway of a mock temple.”

    Murray I agree with “most” of what you said. However, Hasidim are primarily and traditionally diamond merchants and hangout mainly in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. They have more violent run-ins with NYPD than any other NY Jewish group as they have very exacting orthodox standards that they will not tolerate being violated.

    If they are selling knock-offs or cut-rate cameras out the back of station wagons I really doubt. I think they have this “thing” about “cars”. Also you can spot them by their little sideburn curls and black clothing. They are mainly up near “West Point” at Monroe NY in their own little community. They are buying up property in Connecticut too.

    No… you must be talking about “Hasidic-fakers” dressed up like them. I pity the faker-sucker who gets caught by a bunch of strolling Hisidim. They are not known for their tolerance or benevolent behavior in NYC. No, IMO you are more likely to be sold a camera out the back of a stationwagon (or clipjoint) in NYC by a guy name “Habib”, “Ivan”, “Li”, “Guido”, “Leroy”, or “Eduardo” than a guy named “Chaim”! :-> (sublime humor!)

    However, I do agree with you that “some” of the “scammers” and “con artists” in NYC may be of the same “power-base” ethnic group which seems to wield heavy power amongst the neocons like NYC (R) Mayor “Bloomberg” and prez (R) George “Likud-Party” Bush lately.

    Caveat Emptor!

  69. Anonymous says:

    wow, what’s with the cowardly people that are afraid of things like the company charging them if they don’t take their review off? people need to be more honest.
    i guess it’s cause they’re older, and haven’t grown up in a generation in which we know credit cards (and use them) like nothing else, and are not afraid to dispute charges

  70. Anonymous says:

    I called on a mon to buy a canon eos d20 got a call the next day trying to sell me the world afraid I wasn’t going to get my camera I told the guy okokok like a fool. I got so annoyed toward the end of the conversation I told him I JUST WANT THE CAMERA ONLY and he hung up on me. They were very rude even after I told him I was a poor student who was using loan money to pay for the camera for school work & he still persisted on asking me if I wanted more and more accessories. I got fed up and they broke me sorry guys they got me with the fear tactics…. I ended up paying $1.410 which is what I would have paid in a retail store. (added cleaning kit which looks like it costs $1 an extra battery that’s $50 extended bull warranty and 2day shipping… I don’t think that was worth the extra money and high blood pressure) are we sure the name isn’t PRICEJERKuOFFRITEPHOTO.com

  71. Anonymous says:

    NYC as a whole is Full Of S***. Go to your local shop and pay a few bucks more to support them. You can walk out with the product in hand and know that you’ve helped a small business survive. Saving $100 on a camera is not worth the chance of getting screwed by anyone.

  72. There are some great shops in NY.
    In addition to B&H;, don’t forget J&R; music world on Park Row. A little secret – if you go in person, many marked prices are NEGOTIABLE!!!
    Also, don’t be afraid to use Abe’s of Maine in Brooklyn, I bought from them and had no problems. They have a good rating from the BBB too.
    I don’t have any relationship with these businesses except satisfied customer.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I just had a very funny conversation with a sales person at PriceRitePhoto — I phoned them and asked where they are located. He responded “New York.” I asked what his address was and the salesman said “I am not at liberty to give out my store’s address.” I asked him a few different ways, and each time he refused to give any address. It was entertaining, to say the least. Try it yourself: 888-365-4300

  74. big nick digger says:

    i pooped my pants

  75. Mr. T says:

    Treat her right, treat your mother right.

  76. BillyWarhol says:

    CLASSIC!!***********

    Funny story dude********

    luvv yer photos*

    Cheers!! Billy ;))

  77. Fistolio says:

    Nasty. Very Nasty. Some online stores are crap indeed. Here in Australia, I purchased camera from centre.net.au and they delivered it within 23 hours of payment, all the way across Oz!

    My 2nd camera was also purchased online from a street store with an online presence. They assured me they had stock and they delivered on the dot.

    Although I never researched either, it would be easy to get caught out by scammers, a bit like the Hong Kong tourist bait and switchers. I saw this happen first hand and we got out lucky because they messed up their CC handling.

    Hope it all works out!

  78. xamox says:

    Power to the blogger. They can have their people fill out fake customer surveys but they can’t take away the blog. Poor price rite photo, I’m sure if anyone searches for that name on the net your bound to come across this blog. hahaha.

  79. I cannot tell you the number of times when I have had a simple Internet transaction that has devolved quickly into a similarly horrible situation that is not worth all of the time and trouble. I’m impressed with the amount of attention you were able to call to this. Nicely done. A couple off obvious things: Always be wary about the lowest price vendor. If you consider the value of your time, you might have “saved” in the long run by spending a few hundred more with an alternate vendor. Try to find a good credit card with ironclad fraud and buyer protection. I agree with the posters here who say that the BBB is irrelevant. They are. Complaints to most Attorneys General offices are not much more effective. You want to be careful too about threatening even a bad business. It is one thing for a customer who has had a bad experience to share that experience with other consumers so they can make up their own minds about doing business with a certain company. However, less carefully worded threats to say negative things about a business can be construed as tortious interference with someones business and they can sue you for that. They might not win but they could cause a lot of trouble. What works better for me is to report an out of state company to the office of your home state’s Secretary of State. Most states require businesses to register for a Certificate of Authority to do business in that state. Many IInternet businesses are too lazy to do this because it requires a lot of time and paperwork. But the fines can be steep if someone reports them. You should check with the Secretary of State’s office to find out if Priceritephoto ever registered for a Certificate of Authority to do business in the State of California. I’d wager they probably didn’t. I’ve used this backup before in negotiating with certain companies who have been difficult about refunds. They always cave.

  80. Had a similar experience with a place called pcandplasma.com trying to buy a Nikon D70 for my aunt. Once I realized they had no intention of sending me my item, they “let me cancel.” I then ordered from a place on eBay called Camweis that also operated a Web site called camweis.com. The owner said his name was Joel Weiss. I did eventually receive a camera, that shortly thereafter had problems and when it was sent to Nikon, they sent it back unrepaired saying it was a gray market item, even though the listing said it carried a manufacturer’s warranty.
    I also complained to the NY Attorney General, and after several calls to Mr. Weiss, he eventually agreed to repair the camera. So, we sent it back and this went on for months, and in the meantime his eBay account and web site were taken down. I happened to find an e-mail address for him through an old eBay listing, and contacted him that way, and he said he had been trying to contact me (yeah, right). He said the “repair fee” was $250. I went nuts and told him all the action I had taken and planned to take, and he finally shipped the repaired camera back. Now, my aunt is stuck with a gray market Nikon. Although it is working now, there’s no guarantee that if anything else goes wrong we won’t be stuck with some huge repair bill.

  81. btezra says:

    ~Thomas, great job, I applaud your tenacity and the results you furnished through your efforts…I hope you got that 5D, it’s one helluva dslr, and thanx for making QUITE a few people aware of the perils of dealing w/ shady camera e-retailers…all the best!~

    btezra from Flickr
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/btezra/

  82. Melissa says:

    I had a similar experience, although not nearly as bad that you can read about on my blog. http://haloscan.com/tb/littlemp/113587143498996034 I’m glad I got my order cancelled before it got to that degree. It’s frustrating that places like that are still operating!!

  83. Anonymous says:

    This is the longest single blog I have seen. I have shopped at priceritephoto.com other than the fact they are very rude, my order came in good order.
    But I can imagine those guys using such deceitful techniques and scams.

    I recommend using store ratings and reviews before buying anything. Use sites like http://www.PriceComparison.com

    Just my 2 cents

  84. Dude! What an incredible story. You should check with the “Five on your side” guys or some consumer reporting show. 🙂

    Good work!

  85. Sparrow says:

    Thank you (and the other commenters!) for this very valuable information on shady camera retailers. I’ve bookmarked this post so that I can reference it often.

  86. Anonymous says:

    Well done, I think you have done a fantasitic job at sticking to your guns. You knew you were right and you had every right to the purchase. I’m very glad to see you have won this battle and hope other vendors take note. Consumers have a very big impact especially with the internet and poor customer service will not be tolerated.

  87. Anonymous says:

    Well done, I think you have done a fantasitic job at sticking to your guns. You knew you had every right to the purchase. I’m very glad to see you have won this battle and hope other vendors take note. Consumers have a very big impact especially with the internet and poor customer service will not be tolerated.

  88. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, this isn’t a situation restricted to camera outlets. You’ll find a very similar experience if you ever need to contract a moving company based in Florida (if you know better–you NEVER will!).

  89. Kronicade says:

    Wow, top Digg!!!! Good Job!!

  90. phrakture says:

    I must say that reading this gave me chills. For a long time people have been under the thumb of those ‘larger’ than themselves – mainly because there was no mainstream way to get in touch with those on your side. With the advent of this sort of blog-o-sphere power, the fulcrum has shifted.

    Mr Hawk, I thank your for your contribution to all us little consumers out here. And props to all you other people for bringing this story into the lime-light.

    Cheers

  91. Anonymous says:

    I am head of marketing for a major online camera / electronics retailer. We have been complaining to the shopping comparison engines and portals for years regarding unethical online selling practices and meaningless rating systems. Happy to see that due to Thomas Hawk’s persistence and tenacity, they finally started listening.

    Well done! Thomas, if you’re still interested in purchasing the Canon 5D, let me know and we will sell it to you at our cost…no games, no add ons.

  92. Thomas Hawk says:

    Already bought it at B&H.; Thanks.

  93. Anonymous says:

    Thomas, just wanna say keep fighting the good fight! I had similar experiences with vendors from Brooklyn. Their giving a great borough a bad name! My brother (whose was new to purchasing anything online) basically just searched the lowest price for a Sony digicam and a Sony video recorder. It came out realativly cheap, but decided to call the company to see if it was too good to be true. We see a smiliar relation to the guy who seems nice and respectable on the phone. Well he basically gives him the same crap about needing accesories. He says he’ll get a warranty, lens, battery charger, tripod, etc for basically a crapload of money. Being the fool he is, my bro falls for it. But since he did we didnt really get harrased. Later after I realized what he had done, I almost slapped for doing such a stupid mistake! Well at least we didnt get into to much trouble. Still …. those guys are pricks.

  94. Anonymous says:

    Just a HEADS UP! Companies pay money to belong to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB is not the Consumer Advocate that you think it is. The BBB is more like a club of merchants that pay money to belong to the club. Thus, the fact that the listing for this store changes on the BBB site is not surprising. If the store is listed that means it’s a part of the club.

    If you’re looking to complain about a business DO NOT go to the BBB. Go to the Attny Gen or, if your state has one, the Industrial Commission, or the Consumer Protection Agency. Any of these types of agencies is better than the BBB. Complaining to the BBB about a business that is listed with them is like complaining to the Police dept. about Officer abuse. It won’t do any good.

  95. Anonymous says:

    I also had a similar experience online but then i heard ebay has much better sellers since you cant fake feedback like you can online. i saw the “pricerite photo” ebay store and they were selling the cameras much higher than their website was. ithen went to japanexpress2 which had an amazing feedback and also had the camera i wanted at a real low price and i reeceived it in 2 days after i placed my order. those other scum really have some nerve trying to force it on you but good for you not to be a victim.

  96. Anonymous says:

    I work for a finance company and almost bought a camera from a similar company. I decided to buy the camera from one of the Suppliers that we had financed for. We do a lot of investigation before we will pay someone for any equipment. I choose B&H; Photo based on that investigation. I would recomend them to everyone.

  97. karl says:

    Having lived in NY for 8 years I know that there are a tonne of very unscrupulous camera and electronic shops. New York’s 5th avenue is famous for it’s “going out of business” sales, and incredibly aggressive high pressure sales. It’s not surprising that many of these kind of companies are moving onto the internet.

    I’m an avid photographer and can highly recomend B&H; photo, yes they can be abrupt, but they know they’re stuff inside out. Visiting their store in New York is worth the trip, it is an amazing store, and quite a unique “New York” experience.

  98. Anonymous says:

    I was about to buy a camera from Barclay’s photo on evbay and did some lookinbg into them and found the bad feedback. I will not buy from them under any circumstance.

    Kevin from Vancouver Canada

  99. Anonymous says:

    Wish I had found this site before dealing (HDTV) with IBUYDIGITAL.com (A/K/A IBUYPLASMA, DIGITAL
    MEGASTORE,DBUYS,REAL DEAL SHOP,CENTRAL DIGITAL). Same bait and switch tactics. Send them back to where they came from, but only after they’re put out of business.

  100. Anonymous says:

    priceritephoto sold me an stolen camera, I found out because the camera broke few weeks after I received it an i sent it to the manufacturer for warranty service, they did not return me the camera because it was stolen from their warehouse few months ago.

  101. I’ve posted on my forum with short URL for consumer complaints.

    take a look Sayno.to/PriceRitePhoto

  102. Anonymous says:

    wow – that steve phillips guy sounds either crazy, or crazy on drugs. why?:
    – grandiose : I’ll sue you, I’m an attorney, I’ll call your boss and have you fired
    -persecutory: I know you’re flooding my call centre.
    all pretty simple stuff, which would be consistent with amphetamine abuse in a psychosis-susceptible individual, who would need it for, say, a high speed stressful job.

    speed! it’ll get your goat eventually!

  103. Neil says:

    It’s amusing all the discussion about Hasidic Jews being the problem when the *only* photo store in New York that I’d buy from (www.bhphotovideo.com) is run by Hasidim. They’re brisk on the phone, but honest and awesome in person.

  104. Heywood says:

    B and H are brisk in person too, but like you, I would never buy photo equip from anywhere else. I have trusted their used gear for years and you know you will never beat their prices.

    If most of the crooked camera biz and the only reputable camera biz in NY are controlled by hasidism, its simply because the camera biz in NY is controlled by hasidic folks.

    I think it has less to do with their culture than the fact that its easier to cheat people than it is to try and take on a solid and honest place like b and h fairly.

  105. Anonymous says:

    theyre back!

  106. Anonymous says:

    I made the mistake of bidding on a camera on ebay with them. I was told 3 weeks later that the camera shipment was CANCELLED by the manufacturer and the only way I found out was when I CALLED them. Got a refund, and left them a negative feedback, and they want to mediate with me to retract the feedback that I put in. After reading this, I am not going to. Thank you for this informative information.

  107. florini says:

    Thanks to everyone for your comments. I spent a good few minutes reading this…

    I was just looking to buy a Canon EOS 5D camera, as i found it a few hundred dollars cheaper on a couple of sites. After talking to my colleague at work, he directed me to your blog.

    I was shocked to learn about what what happened to some of you. It appears that these businesses are run by criminals.

    I’ll be much more careful in the future.

  108. Anonymous says:

    you are a bunch of mother fffvfgvc

  109. Yahoo Shopping is one of the strongest pro spam support sites on the web. I would buy nothing from a merchant that uses Yahoo Shopping.

  110. mATOK says:

    I really hope you see the above comment and remove it.

    I enjoyed reading your article and about your triumph but was immediatly put off by the last most assuming and disgusting comment.

  111. Anonymous says:

    Holly Sh1t…great story.
    Just so you all know.. THIS STORY HAS JUST BEEN PICKED UP IN AUSTRAIA, and is a feature story in APC (Australian Personal Computer) magazine.

  112. cxjv says:

    oh, man. i just placed an order with what i’m pretty sure is one of these related outfits, 42nd street photo — a familiar street name, no? the camera got here fine, earlier than expected, actually, but i feel like i could have been ripped off easily. and now, having done a little research after the fact, i see there are all kinds of people who have been ripped off. not to mention i hate the fact i probably helped these guys stay in business. yep, i bought the accessories, too, which actually weren’t too overpriced in my case. i have no idea why i got so lucky. but one thing’s for sure — i won’t deal with anyone other than b&h; et al. from now on..

    you’ve really got to do the research and trust your instincts out there.. thanks to everyone who’s helped get this story out there..

  113. Anonymous says:

    I placed an order today from one of their other sites. WaWa Digital. I received a telephone call right back from them. They ask me why I bought a refurbished camera. I told them I ordered a new one. WRONG … BAIT AND SWITCH. I then told them to cancel my order. The guy on the other end told me he had my social security number and my credit card number. And they were going to use it to destroy me. Credit card number yes.. social NO. I called my credit card company and told them what happened. They canceled my card.

    I then called back, told them I canceled my card and they were angry. They told me if I didn’t send them a $140.00 Cashiers check in three days they were going to destroy me … meaning my credit. I LEARNED!

  114. Anonymous says:

    Could this company be selling on Amazon.com as NuMark Photo? Check the feedback from John4623 dated 5/17/2006. Here’s a link: http://tinyurl.com/le6uv

  115. Anonymous says:

    I too was recently burned by WaWa Digital… same bait & switch, order cancellation, etc. I cancelled my card because I just had a feeling they were going to steal my credit card info… Sure enough, transactions were attempted for several days after placing my order. As an added bonus, fraudulent inquiries began showing up on my credit report!

    It’s amazing that law enforcement can’t seem to stop these people.

  116. Anonymous says:

    I am going through this same problem right now with FotoConnection.com. You’ve inspired me to address the whole issue not just my piece of the problem. I’m now out for a “Hawk-ish” revamp of the shopping aggregators. Down with FotoConnection!

  117. paul says:

    I just researched the name Chaim Pikarski again, and see his name, and the afrementioned address listed now with filmshop.com. Filmshop.com now forwards you to uniquephoto.com Buyers beware!

  118. Anonymous says:

    The funniest part about their unique photo site is in the About Us page:

    Price, Quality, Dependability and Service … Since 1947

    Right!

  119. Anonymous says:

    yea, i tried to use the calledge technics on train ingineers, but they seem to just run on dienosics and cant jump outta their realm of realtiy.

    it was just a hobby, so i moved on qite easyly, to some things else.

  120. Anonymous says:

    now make a choice.

    a. stay in an abstracted northen perseption, and ether work for or be steered by chunky cheese’s for the rest of you exstance.

    or

    b. turn that crack to fun da mentals, turn that evo to wonder and modifycation to feed your creative being, and turn that alcohol to wave absorbation and shift through what invokes you, love is nether for sale or fated, it is yours axadental and pure, so fuck the rubbing alchole. enter my perseption and venture. keep your personallty create and explore.

    the choice is yours, and who ever well enter.

  121. Anonymous says:

    all of u r shit sucks and u can suck my big fat cock if u dont think so so fuck u u ass hole and eat shit and die

  122. Anonymous says:

    de only thing u all can beat up iz ur dick so im gonna kick u alls ass and bust a nut on ur head and smoke a fuckin huge blunt after word and then sniff a line of crack ok mother fucker and my name is lance carver

  123. Anonymous says:

    u r gay talkin bout cameras
    i’l beat all ur fuckin ass

  124. Anonymous says:

    My name is trey davis and my phone number iz (336)504-5316. and call me i just wrote all three of dem bitches talkin shit to u all and u all can suck my dick u geeks and i luv pussy in ur mom bitch

  125. Anonymous says:

    These experinces are very interesting, but they all lack one thing — the resolution. Did the cc companies come through for the victims? What other tatics did the photo companies try after the cc’s were cancelled? Did they manage to collect restocking or reshipping fees? Were the victims’ credit reports affected?

    Posters, please volunteer this information so others know what to expect following the initial scam.

    Thanks.

  126. Anonymous says:

    My God! I think the company you are talking about changed their name to Best Price Camera/Infinity Cameras. The same thing happened to my husband. We paid for a camera with our Discover Card and printed out the order with the confirmation number. The next day, someone called my husband and said they needed to “confirm” the order. They also said the camera didn’t come with a battery and my husband said, “That’s odd, on the Web site it says it comes in the box”. My husband said he didn’t want it and thank you for contacting me.

    We received the camera two days later and that’s when the fun started. They sent a “kit” with a battery and lens for an additional $500. We never authorized them to charge us for these additional items. Meanwhile, my husband tried in vain to call Best Price Camera/Infinity Cameras) to tell them they over-charged us and to fix the order. The battery came with the camera, but they charged us anyway for this stupid kit. Anyway, for four months we disputed with Discover. Don’t even get me started on that! We tried and tried to get hold of Best Price Cameras via the phone and the Web. They always had a recording on. Meanwhile, Discover kept taking our charge in and out of dispute. My husband showed how they changed our order (the order number even changed because the crook on the phone put in a new order). We couldn’t get hold of the company to get an RMA or even discuss the order. Finally, Discover said they would not dispute any further because we still had the merchandise. We decided to just FedEx it back and then Discover said they would dispute again. Best Price Cameras accepted the return. My husband called them after accepted the return and said he wanted the credit back. The slimy sales guy he originally talked with said that since we opened the box, we couldn’t return. We had no choice but open the box. They opened it first and put the receipt in the camera box. My husband had thoroughly documented the whole transaction, took pictures of the box and showed they had changed our order and charged our credit card without our authorization. Two weeks later we had a full refund on our credit card. We threatened them with going to the Better Business Bureau and also filing a formal charge with the NY Attorney General.

    Take-aways from our experience:
    1. Always use AMEX for big purchases like this. I’ve NEVER, EVER had AMEX not go to bat for me.

    2. DO NOT USE BEST PRICE CAMERA /INFINITY CAMERAS! THEY ARE CROOKS AND THE SLIME OF THE EARTH.

    3. Your best bet is to go to a place like B&H; Camera. That’s where many professional photographers buy their equipment. We bought a camera from them and it was the best online shopping experience we have ever had.

    4. Make sure you spread the word about these unethical, criminal outfits. Maybe we can put these people out of business.

    Signed,

    Learned a Lesson in Virginia

  127. Anonymous says:

    The NY AG’s office is great at Fraud Protection.

    You have done a great service to the online community here. The time and resources spent are enormous. I am online researching cameras for a purchase, and stumbled across your site. Yeah, so there’s an hour and a half of life I’ll never get back, but a great story. Just wanted to say thank you, and let you know that there and millions of anonymous people out here who appreciate what you’ve done.

  128. Anonymous says:

    Another one to watch out for is MOBILEDIA.COM. I ordered a Sprint cell phone plan with two phones, two days later it was cancelled by MOBILEDIA.com. I called 2 days later to confirm the cancelled order. Then 2 weeks later I receive the two phones and plan. Cost: $325. This all happened after I bought cell phones and did not need or want the cell phones from mobiledia.com. I still have not received my refund!

  129. Anonymous says:

    Same thing – Camera City Brooklyn, New York. Extremely bad experience. It should be illegal!

  130. Wish I had read your blog before I stepped into this mess. My first part is about calling BestPriceCameras.com I was interested in the MG-GZ505 Camcorder and this is the explaination I finally sent to my credit card company to try and get out of the mess:

    “I found Best Price Camera’s online at http://www.bestpricecameras.com and was buying a JVC GZ-MG505 Camcorder listed at $729.00. I started on internet but called their customer service department who sent me to a salesman named Jonathan. He started an order and then was trying to sell me accessories. I was interested in some of the things so I ended up ordering the JVC GZ-MG505 camcorder ($729.00), Full size tripod ($79.95 discounted to $59.95), 37mm high resolution UV filter ($29.95), Lens cleaning kit ($29.95), High speed rapid 90 minute charger ($199.95) and he then offerred me the 6 hour battery listed at $249.00 for $199.00 and if I bought 2 he would upgrade second one to 8 hour battery for same price of $199.95 so I agreed to 2 batteries $199.95 ea. one 6 hour and 1 8 hour. At this point he said my total was $1499.00 and for an additional $100.00 he would give me a 4 year warranty with 3 camera cleanings included and I agreed. I asked him if he could email me an itemization of what I just ordered and he said they don’t do that and that my invoice would come with the order in the box. I gave him my paypal debit card number and that was on 10-23-06.
    On 10-31-06 I received a package that had an invoice in it but no itemization just a total of $1599.00 plus $19.99 freight and some of the items listed that I ordered but no check marks or any type of marks on invoice showing what they put in box. I recieved the tripod, 4 year warranty, lens cleaning kit, 37mm high resolution UV filter and the box with camera JVC GZ-MG505, manual, software disk and here was first problem. The battery included was the BN-VF707 (a 2 hour battery that comes stock with camcorder) and the AP-V14U charger that is also the overnight stock charger not the 90 minute quick charger. No other batteries are in the box. I call customer service and they send me back to Jonathan the salesman who took my original order. I explain that I got the wrong battery and am missing the other battery and also the wrong charger. He insists that I got the right battery and charger. I ask him what is the model/part number for the 6 hour battery and the 90 minute quick charger and he says he doesn’t know that because he is a salesman. I look both items up on internet using google and it shows that the charger is the one sold with camera and the battery is the 2 hour battery sold with camera as stock items. I ask him to ask shipping for numbers for 6 hour battery and the quick charger and he then sends me to shipping. The guy in shipping tells me that he doesn’t know the numbers for the different size batteries or the charger and I ask him how can they ship items if they don’t know the numbers. He says that the charger and battery comes in with camera and its illegal for him to open the boxes and look at those things. I look at box I was sent and it doesn’t show anything on outside of box about type of charger or battery in box. It does have a blurb that says Don’t forget a battery backup and lists 3 batteries BN-VF707 (one I got 2 hour battery), BN-VF714 (4 hour battery), and BN-VF733 (six hour battery). He sends me back to Jonathan and he says he can send me out a 6 hour battery for only an additional $100.00 and no freight. I tell him that I already paid for 2 batteries and the one I received is neither of the ones I ordered and I won’t pay for more batteries as he owes me batteries. At this point I ask for a manager and he finally sends me to a guy who says he is the manager. I notice in all conversations with any people there I hear alot of background noise of people on phones like in boiler rooms. As the manager quotes almost exactly the same thing to me that Jonathan did I suspect he is not manager but another salesman acting as manager. He also can’t come up with any part/model numbers, he then sends me to another girl who says she is a manager and she can’t find models/parts either but says I can have battery sent no charge to take care of the order. Then Jonathan gets on phone and says ok everything is fixed and I say no we haven’t even figured out what I received versus what I paid and I say I would rather just start over and send it all back and just order 2 of the JVC GZ-MG505 camcorders instead and order accessories seperate. He says he would charge me 20% restocking fee and add additional $350.00 handling penalty fee if I returned stuff and if I re-ordered the camera’s I would see them for 6 months. He also said I should be trying to buy the camera’s at $729.00 when they are valued at $1499.00. Like the package deal was why I paid so cheap for camera’s but thats not the case as these camera’s are listed on their site at that price. He then says he will add another 10% aggravation fee to the restock so its 30% restocking fee plus the $350.00 handling fee. I then explain his manager girl said I could have the battery sent no charge and he says he can do that but will charge me $25.00 shipping and $25.00 insurance fee on the free battery. I argue that this is not right and that I shouldn’t be paying any freight charge as its their shipping mistake and I still am not getting an 8 hour battery and 6 hour battery that they charged me for but only getting a 2 hour battery and a 6 hour battery. He then says he is shipping the BN-VF714 battery (this is 4 hour battery) and I say that he should atleast send the 6 hour battery and he then says he will charge $10.00 freight. At this point I’m fed up so I just say ok. I call back the customer service line and the guy that answers I explain to him that I was already talking to sales and did not want to be sent back there. I explain I need a supervisor and he says “I’m the Customer Service Manager” I start to explain the problem and he says “hold on” and then sends me back to Jonathan in sales the same guy that I have been talking to for 1 1/2 hours. I just ask him for the number of the order for the additional battery and he says “oh by the way I’m sending the BN-VF733 battery (6 hour battery).
    I suspect that all the numbers for this company are in same room and that by the noise in the background all these people are sales people in a boiler room type operation. I think all the managers were really just other sales people acting like managers because they all said same thing and the phone was switched back and forth real quick with conversations continuing like they all heard all the conversations. I could not reach anyone in charge to cancel my order correctly and with their open end policy on restock charges and the fact they have already bilked me for $1619.98 I can’t work with them. Please make sure they cannot debit my paypal debit card for any additional payments as they have my information in their system.
    I will gladly send them back everything they sent me for a full refund. I would even buy 2 of the JVC GZ-MG505 Camcorders from them for 729.00 ea. plus 19.95 shipping like on their website instead of the problems on this order. I suspect they will not sell the product as its a bait and switch type deal.”

    Ok after that and several reviews later I decide to not even buy that type 3ccd camcorder but to go with the Sony HDR-SR1 AVC HD 30GB HANDYCAM CAMCORDER and call century21electronics.com and order this camcorder for $769.00 and tell them its a gift and I don’t need accessories. They say it will take 2 to 4 weeks to ship. I call back to see about the ad on the site about express shipping and am told yes I get that but the item has to be ordered from china. He then sends me to a order verifier and guess what?? He is Jonathan the same guy from bestpricecameras.com so I don’t say anything but verify the order number and get off the phone. I then go to whois.net online and check these two companies and guess what?? They are both owned by company in Vancouver Washington
    and have same contact info and phone numbers. I realize they are same company with different cover name and all the orders go to same sales department in Brooklyn New York.
    So next I go online and find another company usaphotonation.com with a price about 80.00 higher then others and call them and get another salesman with New York accent I ask him if the Sony Camcorder is in stock and he says “yes” I ask him if it can ship right away and he says “yes” I ask is right away in a day or two and he says “we might be able to ship today!!” I say I only want camcorder with no accessories and he explains that I can’t just buy the camera without the (high price) accessories from anybody. He says there are two types of these cameras a grey market and a retail. The retail comes in a box with small battery, lens cap, software and stuff from usa and he can sell me that one for $1199.00 or the grey market is camcorder alone made in China with chinese language set internally in camcorder so you have to send it to sony to change to english and that one takes about 4 weeks to send and comes with nothing at the price listed on the site. I might point out the site shows usa pictured camera and all the specs and is “hot” item and ready to ship.
    So I thank him and say I’ll think about it. I next call Royalcameras.com who is selling camera for about $30.00 more then usaphotonation (I check whois first and they show a different state and numbers for domain name) At first the auto operator sounds very official then I get transfered to sales department and guess what??
    I could swear it was Jonathan the same salesman that worked at bestpricecameras.com

    So there you have it. The whole industry is phoney and my advise is DON’T BUY ANY CAMCORDERS ONLINE cause there is only one salesman for all of them and his name is
    JONATHAN.EILQDOLJ

  131. Anonymous says:

    expresscameras.com are the same scam and are sued by nj state (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/12/nj_save_here.html). wish that I red all that a week ago. my damage in buying cannon camcorder and nikon camera is about $400…

  132. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the blogger who said don’t buy Brooklyn… I ordered a CD Rom from those guys.. got a different one than advertised and it didn’t work. Could not get a human on the phone after punching several buttons.. never got them to call me back. I used to live in NY and go back a few times a year. A NYC Detective friend of mine and I brought the CD Rom to their store, his holstered revolver could be seen when he left his jacket open. Needless to say they jumped to replace the CD Rom without any hassle.

  133. Baby Jebus says:

    I’m glad you got justice.

    I’ve had to go through the BBB with a online clothing store before. Funny how much faster they respond to you when you throw the BBB into the mix.

  134. Lurchgs says:

    Timely – I’m interested in (well, not really, I prefer film, but I do have the need for) a DSLR…I’ve turned on my credulity meter. I hope that my experience is better.

    I agree in general terms with the “don’t buy Brooklyn”. Last year I bought an iPod from a NY seller on e-bay. After numerous emails questioning status and replies promising shipping, I finally got my order – 6 weeks later. And, of course, as soon as I opend the box I found that I had some cheap knock-off.

    The seller’s first response to my negative feedback was to threaten me with a lawsuit for libel. I checked with my lawyer and – while my personal thought was “bring it on” – I replied that I was not about to change my feedback.

    This bozo eventually started using SquareTrade.com. They seem to be a good group, but they need to work on their process a bit. For one thing, there is no ‘customer service’, or any way to contact them unless you have a ‘mediator’ assigned. Further, even though many complaints are keyed to e-bay (or other systems) transaction ids, SquareTrade claims to have no means to detect repetative/harrassing complaints. A simple fix, if they want to bother. Until they do, I’m not interested in them.

    Anyway, this seller used SquareTrade to hassle me periodically – still periodically threatening me with a lawsuit.

    Earlier this month, I again talked to my lawyer, and he pointed out that I could easily counter sue for harrasment – and I could include SquareTrade. When I finally got somebody at SquareTrade to talk to (by means of accepting a mediator in this complaint from the NY Bozo), I filed my complaint against SquareTrade with HIM.

    So far, I’ve not heard again from either of them.. but the end of the month is nearing.

    The down side to the BBB is that they are a reporting agency only. They don’t really have any authority. Sure, checking with them is still a good idea, but in this day and age, it makes a lot more sense to check the corporate filings of any copmpany you want to do business with. Most states have them online.

  135. inko says:

    Can I trust this exchange of message about : http://www.electricnetmarket.com/canon-eos-5d-128-megapixel-camera-.html

    I will be in USA soon and dreaming about to buy a 5D for about 1000$, is it a dream or can it be a reality ?

    ……………………………..
    Seller :
    Yes sir, you are right!

    ……………………………..

    I wrote:
    You means, 999,00$ for a canon 5d body only, shipping taxes for Orlando and TVA included ?
    YES OR NO ?

    ……………………………..


    De : David Coffman customers@electricnetmarket.com
    Date : Wed, 14 Feb 2007 08:29:35
    Objet : Re: About two Canon 5D body ?

    Having a lot of scouters all over the world which provide us with the better prices on the market. What you see in the picture, a Canon 5D Camera, is what you will get after the payment is done!!

    Best regards,

    ……………………………..

    You want to said that I will only paid 999,00$ for a canon 5d body only, shipping taxes for Orlando and TVA included ?
    I can’t trust it, it’s a gift ? ? ?

    Regards nicolas,

    ……………………………..


    De : David Coffman customers@electricnetmarket.com
    Date : Wed, 14 Feb 2007 07:03:43
    Objet : Re: About two Canon 5D body ?

    Hello,

    It will take 3 working days to deliver the package with the e cameras. All shipping taxes are included in the price.

    Please let me know.

    ……………………………..

    Can you tell me, how long do you need to send me the pack, and how much does it coast to send it for Orlando city ?

    ……………………………..


    De : David Coffman customers@electricnetmarket.com
    Date : Wed, 14 Feb 2007 05:49:44
    Objet : Re: About two Canon 5D body ?

    Hello,

    All prices in our website are the real prices, the prices for which you will be able to buy our products. So if you want to buy something from us you will have only to start an order by adding to cart the products you want.

    We will look forward to hear from you with an exact order.

    Thanks

    ……………………………..

    I wil be in Florida this WKND for 12 days, I come from France and I would like to buy two Canon 5D body. Can you first confirm me the price I will have to spent, I’ve seen on your website that it coast only $999.00, is this information true ?
    Can you tell me, how long do you need to send me the pack, and how much does it coast to send it for Orlando city ?

    Regards Nicolas,

  136. Anonymous says:

    Great read! thanks!

  137. Anonymous says:

    nice blog!

  138. gowri says:

    By the way check this company MDFI. Their stock is set to increase because of their association with Apple iphone and Complete Care Medical. Find more about this company and stock http://www.growurmoney.com/medefile/

  139. Anonymous says:

    I may be a good idea to transmitt this blog to senators and repressentatives in all 50 states.

  140. Anonymous says:

    Amazing. Terrific, wonderful work you’ve done. Score one for the average guy. I hope Chaim/Ed/Steve is found and sent to Attica where he belongs. Temporarily ruining his livelihood is not enough.

  141. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this blog! I was very tempted to buy something from BestPriceCamera becuase it’s such a good (and unbelievable?) price. Do you know they are offering a Nikon D80 body for $200 some dollars? That should be a red warning light right there! After reading this, I won’t be dealing with them at all. Thanks again!

  142. markth7 says:

    I tried to by a nikon 12-24mm f4 camera lens for $579 which would be a very good price.
    The url is: http://www.expresscameras.com/prodetails.asp?prodid=127918&display;=1

    1. I placed the order for the nikon 12-24 f4 DX camera lens on the expresscameras.com WEB page using my AMEX card.
    2. They sent an email with an phone number to call to confirm the online order.
    3. I called and was advised that they do not accept AMEX
    (their WEB site clearly says it does)
    4. They asked for a different credit card (which I gave them – my mistake)
    5. They then tried to switch me to a SIGMA 10-20MM lens for $879
    (this lens can easily be purchase for under $500 almost anywhere)
    6. I told them I wanted the nikon 12-24mm f4 lens as adverticed.
    7. I was then told by the salesman (Pete) that the nikon 12-24mm f4 DX lens was not digital ready.
    I then stated that the nikon 12-24 f4 DX lens is a DX lens meaning – digital only.
    8. I was also told that the advertised lens has a plastic mount and I would have to throw in $200 for a metal mount.
    I then stated that the nikon 12-24 f4 DX lens only has a metal mount
    (there are no plastic mount lenses of this model).
    9 I was told that the auto-focus search motor was noisy on this model.
    I then stated that every review I read commented on how silent the motor on this lens is.
    10.The saleman then recommended I buy the nikon 14-24 f4 VR for $1000 more
    11. I cancelled the order and they immediately hung up.

    This is a clear case of “bait and switch”. They had no intention of selling the camera lens at
    the advertised price

  143. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr Hawk I am so glad you started this blogg ..This is the best thing that could have happened since the mail order scumms have been about..You state that we should be blaming places like pricegrabber.com and i couldnt agree any more pricegrabber.com origanlly started as a highley reputable search engine when they first started as there growth exceeded there expectations..Pricegrabber now worries alot more about wich merchant is paying them the most money every month instead of wich merchant actually provides there customers the best service..Of course they still have the highly reputable merchants on such as newegg B+H and JR..But then you come across scum merchants such as dbuys.com , us1camera.com , pcvideoonline.com, butterflyphoto.com ..All have hundreds of negative reviews bad customer experiances and some how still appear on pricegrabber.com. Yeah pretty reputible. Another way of knowing that these companies are paying there way through there reputation is you will frequently see the featured merchant logo near these names most of the timea minimum charge of $10,000-$50,000 extra a month just for that simple featured merchant insertion, besides the standar few hundred thousand $$$ they already take from these merchants monthly..Basicly if you have hundreds of extra thousands of $$$$ pricegrabber would be happy to be a sell out to all of there millions of loyal customers as long as it is enough $$$ to fit in there pockets …Pricegrabber is nothing more than a really expensive prostitute and a huge sell out to all of its loyal customers ..The company is worth almost a billion $$$ and there are still greedy and need more $$$$ so they sell out there own customers ..Pcvideoonline.com listed on pricegrabber as a 4 1/2 star merchant even though pricegrabber knows that they operate under a few of the most illegitamit companies out there such as pricemad.com, projectorexpo.com projectorexport.com and a few others take a look at there resellerrating scores or simly type these names into goolge and read hundreds of horror stories…Dbuys.com is the funniest, this company went out of business screwed over hundreds of real customers and then were bought out by the biggest internet scum out there broadwayphoto aka bwayphoto.com A&M; Photo World, Regal Camera, Prestige Camera, Preferred Photo, Royal Camera, and many many more names they go under..The best part about it is that pricegrabber knows exactly this and still has dbuys.com on there website…Butterflyphoto.com aka bestbuyplasma.com lcdtvs.com plasmabay.com digitaletailer.com and a few more also have hundreds and hundreds of horrible customer experiances…The best part about all of this is that pricegrabber knows exactly this but still has these merchants listed all over the electronics parts of there website and claim that they are reputable..Yeah right ..As usual its all about the $$$$$$$ …So i wouldnt count on pricegrabber for anything more than taking your money..If you do or have had a bad experiance with any of these companies be a pal and let the rest of the world know what we are up against so the average joe like myself wont be fooled by pricegrabber Bs ..Always check google before shopping for correct merchant feedback Do not check sell outs like pricegrabber.com

  144. Lisa says:

    My brother bought a Cannon 7.1 Mega Pixel Power Shot A560 Digital Camera at just $125.99 by using eCost Coupon Codes….!!

  145. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had read this 2 weeks ago. I just had a similar incident with Barclay’s Photo. I also know why their ratings are higher.

    We originally left negative feedback on eBay. The same day, which was a Sunday, I got a call from “Chuck” asking how can they make this better. He promised to send me a free battery and refund $20 to my card. Neither one has materialized. But he still calls asking if I’ve withdrawn the feedback yet.

    Amazingly and Ironically enough, my name is Steve Phillips – and I have nothing to do with the one mentioned in the original post.

  146. likescameras says:

    I just narrowly escaped the same disaster as many of you have had with a camera shop in NY,NY. But guess what? THEY HAVE A NEW STORE NAME AND WEBSITE…SAME TACTICS…IT IS:

    86photovideo.com.com!!!!
    and
    Stop4camera.com

    Both of these websites are out of NY,NY with the same cust reps and same attitude. Both changed the price of the camera when I called about the price I saw online.

    I had several conversations with different reps and the conversations were very similar to the ones the previous bloggers had. At the end of the last conversation I had with 86th Photo, I asked for the supervisor and I was told he was gone for the day. I then asked his name so that I could call the next morning and I was told his name was “Ben Dover”. I said “Very funny” and then was told to stop wasting his time and he hung up.

    So what does that tell you. BEWARE of the cheap prices they bait you with on the New York City websites.

  147. Anonymous says:

    I THINK PRICE RITE CHANGED THEIR NAME TO FOTOCONNECTION. I I HAD ALMOST THE SAME THING HAPPEN TO ME. THE CAMERA I ORDERED SHOWED IN STOCK THEN “JOSEPH” CALLED TO ADVISE A PROBLEM WITH ORDER AND ATTEMPTED TO BULLY ME INTOI BUYING A MEMORY CARD THAT WAS VERY OVERPRICED AFTER TELLING ME WHAT I HAD WAS NOT GOOD. THEY SHIPPED IT WITHOUT MY CONSENT AND BILLED MY CREDIT CARD. I AM CURRENTLY GOING THROUGH YOUR SAME FIGHT.
    C.GERACE

  148. Anonymous says:

    Just this week I had the same experience with TechonDIGITAL and 86photovideo. They advertized the lowest price on a Panasonic FZ50 of $319, said it was in stock, I ordered it and received an email to call them. When I called them they asked me if I wanted a memory card or batteries. I told them no. The next email I got was they were out of stock and do not reorder.I had the same experience with both sellers.

  149. Anonymous says:

    I almost bought a camera from these guys, but at the last minute I checked ePinions, which, in addition to rating products, rates online stores. The comments on the site steered me clear.

    goodlife
    happylife
    shylife

  150. peter says:

    Its really good to see too many comments here. Hope your traffic hits a peak.

    =============================
    Peter

    RateTag – India’s World Class Online Shopping Mall – Experience the Magic. Buy Mobile

    Phones, Computers, Electronics, Gifts, Flowers, Apparel, Shoes, Toys, Video Games, Music,

    DVD, Software, Digital Cameras, Musical Instruments, Camcorders and thousands of other

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    Online Shopping of Gifts to India

  151. Anonymous says:

    Just found this article. Fun read. Thanks! Also, Furrybut’s comments make me rofl. It’s always amusing when 10 year-olds get online…

  152. Anonymous says:

    I have just read many of the negative reviews of Barclays Photo. I find it hard to believe. I just purchased a Nikon D80 on eBay from them and it was an overall very good experience. Phil, salesman, called to sell me an extended battery and extended warranty. He informed me that I needed to have the sensor clean yearly. Good to know as I am new to SLR’s and did not know this. I did buy the extended warranty after I got the price down to $200 and the extended battery was thrown in. It was promised to arrive on Thursday but did not arrive until Tuesday. So they are not perfect, I agree. Then my 70-300mm lense was NOT in the box. I called Phil who I must say, seems like a pretty decent guy and he had the lense overnited to me. And as an apology for the lense being shorted, I received another free extended battery. I do a tremendous amount of business online and this experience was positive. I cannot attest to the supposed threats he says he received and I am not doubting that it happened, but I want people to know that many people have had positive experiences with Barclays. I am not nor have I ever been employed with or associated with Barclays. This is not a FAKE endorsement as many will accuse me of. So I hope this helps others. Barclays has a 98.3% positive rating on eBay with 17,963 transactions, so they must be doing something right.

  153. sports says:

    Check it..During the show’s 13-week run, there was a special week of shows taped after the September 11, 2001 attacks where Los Angeles area firefighters and police officers played the game for charities to help their brother officers in New York as well for helping victims and their families recover from the attacks.

  154. thats an awesome story. they fucked with the wrong guy! 🙂 they tried one too many times to shaft buyers. i tried googling them and all what came up was thread after thread of your story. thats awesome. fuck those guys!

  155. Martina says:

    This Abusive Bait camera is very great.

  156. Anonymous says:

    Hey furrybut! Your a monkeys ass!

  157. Anonymous says:

    This Abusive Bait camera is very great.

  158. Anonymous says:

    Not happy with Cameta. I checked their own website online first. Then went to the store, got a detailed, and I mean detailed pricelist of the camera that I wanted -he wanted to sell me the kit.

    Left the store for 20 minutes to go to the bank, came back to find the whole deal changed, no lens available (they said I could travel to the warehouse (yet the lens was available before I left for the 20 minutes), the prices were different, expanded
    and he said he would throw in a bag for all my hassle . (THe bag is a gift from the CAMERA company not from this retailer), and it was flimsy at that. ).

    By the end the price was so high, much more than quoted, left without the lens that I wanted, and with their "kit". ISAY go to B & H for all your camera needs. There is no bait and swich at B & H.

    oh, Cameta is in Long Island, NY

  159. cashback says:

    Great article, it gave me a better insight thanks.

  160. Jorge says:

    Thanks 4 all the info ! Now we are aware in Mexico !!!

  161. ppv streams says:

    leave the bloggers alone were 20 million deep and we can crush you

  162. TecJunky says:

    Two more stores to add the the list of Bait and switchers …
    SonicPhoto.com and CameraGiantInc.com

    Unbelievable price so i had to try it. Same tactic of needing to confirm the order, confirming it over the phone then cancelling. At least they never charged my card!!!

  163. Fu Sozluk says:

    fusozluk sözlük sozluk fatih üniversitesi fatih sozluk fu sozluk fusözlük

  164. JJ says:

    Those of you who may knwo some Polish will see that Chaim Piekarski and Howard Baker are one and the same. Piekasrki is a common surname in Poland and it means, wait for it… Baker. And Chaim is often translated into first names begining with ‘H’: Henry, Harry, Howard, etc. Mr Piekarski is no doubt a Jew or Polish origin. Tens of housands of them in NY.

  165. Zach says:

    Shame the way many of you were treated; I’m glad many of you got resolution.
    Still, and all – next time, go to a Brick and Mortar store.
    With a little experience and attention, it’s a LOT easier to tell if you are getting scammed or not when dealing face to face.

  166. […] three weeks, and hung up…. This company (Camera Giants Inc) definitely fits the profile of a bait & switch store, (like the one talked about here)…. They also have some very rude people that answer the […]

  167. od3n says:

    thanks for nice share!

  168. Jimus says:

    Tri State Camera is another one to avoid

  169. Anthony says:

    OnTimeDigital is another scam. I tried to purchase a Panasonic AG DVX100b camcorder for $1299.00. Guess I should have ran, while the going was good. Anyway…I did it, and got a call in about 30 mins. They said they had received my order…and listen to this…a guy by the name of Sean was on the other end of the phone, and says, “what kind of lens do you want”? I said…lens??? Doesn’t the camcorder come with a lens?? He quickly retorted…NO. I said, well your site doesn’t say that. He then responds, “Yes it does”!! And I responded again…NO IT DOES NOT! AND FURTHERMORE, YOUR SITE IS FULL OF LIES! I then told him to cancel the #@!!%** order, and hung up the phone. The odor of a “rat”, was coming through the phone! Anyway…I recently went back to the site, out of curiosity. That camera is now $3,499.99. Beware people….BEWARE! HA!

  170. Wade says:

    So folks…the lesson in all these comments is:

    A price that sounds too good to be true IS too good to be true.

    Save yourself aggravation (and money) and buy from reputable dealers like B&H or Adorama.

  171. Hero of Canton says:

    I am an amateur photographer and in digging around photography websites this blog has come up a number of times. Thank you for your fight and a bigger thank you for doing it the right way. Too often people go from zero to OMG U RIPPED ME OFF! I H8 U!!! and that solves nothing.

    Thank you again and as always, Buyer beware.

  172. Thanks for sharing this info post.

  173. Anonymous says:

    Your links to BBB don’t go to BBB. bbbny.org is not the BBB.

  174. […] PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store | Thomas Hawk … […]

  175. joseph bauer says:

    stay away from b&h, adorama or any retail store run buy jews
    all the time they try to give you used gear as new, u choose and buy what u think is new gear but when u open the box at home u find out that is used. I am a photographer and i have to buy there because of their good prices but i am always check if the stuff is new before leaving the store. Although not all jews are corrupt or scammers Unfortunately u have to be careful with some bad jews and their tricks

  176. JasonD says:

    Wow, I came here looking for SLR tips, ended up reading a Harry Potter novel free! Witchcraft, drama, horoscopes, death, hacking, extortion, and witch hunting. What a combo. It is amazing to think that shopping for one single item can be this much fun. Who needs TV and stores, just shop online for all the drama of a showtime series.

    Not that I could afford a $3,000 camera myself, but if I could, I know where to avoid. However, I would have added a reverse DNS-lookup and Web-neighbors to help reveal the true owners and affiliations. Web-history is also a good place to look for augmented reviews and prior page listings. Sad to hear about the innocent guy that was mistaken for being associated, but if it wasn’t for you, he may have never known he had all those bad reviews. (Time will heal that.)

    At this rate, I think I am going to get a UPS box and put a pin-hole in it, as my new camera. Sure it is hard to focus without professional lenses, but it is free and easy to make. Happy shopping for future digital and manual SLR cameras.

    (NOTE: Additional wording relevance purposely added for google-searching spider bots. Like you needed any more quality exposure! Pun intended.)

  177. Ya I would never by from them.

  178. Victim says:

    Canon 5d Mark ll
    ***BUYERS BEWARE***
    DBuys.com misleads and lies about selling Canon USA Cameras.
    DBUYS.com are NOT authorized CANON dealers. DBUYS.com sell Gray market cameras with NO Canon WARRANTY cards even after specifying with the sales people and their customer service people that you want to buy a USA Canon Camera & USA Canon Warranty.
    Once you have the camera and realize the scam, they will promise to send warranty cards, to prolong the return time period and then charge re-stocking fees or deny returns with RMA.
    They have my $3600. I have no Warranty and its not covered by Canon. They have sent me two defective cameras with the promise of USA warranty cards and have not delivered and will not allow returning the product. Beware, they know the system and will scam unsuspecting customers!

  179. chillchill says:

    Thank’s for info.

  180. itgenius says:

    Thank’s for info.

  181. captain says:

    Dear Mr Hawk I am so glad you started this blogg .

  182. don’t buy expensive cameras in internet

  183. Matt says:

    Thanks for great camera info.

  184. pars says:

    This is ridiculas. Thanks for info. will try to avoid this shop

  185. Jeremy says:

    I’ve had similar experiences with 2 or 3 NY-based camera dealers–call to upgrade your package, but won’t ship until you buy more stuff. One of them told my wife up front that they had it in stock but would not ship it or cancel the order unless she bought some upgrades. It took 2 weeks of angry calls from me to get them to cancel, and the only reason they agreed to was that the product was pulled from the market by the manufacturer and they actually did end up with none in stock, and agreed to cancel because I didn’t want the newer model which had different features.

    Take портфолио в Пензе’s advice above: unless it’s coming from BestBuy, Amazon (not Amazon affiliates), or another major retailer, DO NOT buy this stuff on the internet unless you’re prepared to get the shaft. There is a reason why it’s listed cheaper: it’s either gray market (which has actually worked out for me in the past, just no warranty or docs, but you can save hundreds for taking the risk, caveat emptor), or they are going to force you into overpriced upgrades. Period.

  186. pramod says:

    thanks….for giving useful info….it really helped me……

  187. FFC says:

    Thanks for your info.

  188. create polls says:

    A lot of great information, thanks, and I do agree on this issue.

  189. What a great post. The post is good for newbie’s. You have done a remarkable job in the area of corporate blogging. Keep it up!
    I hope some more good posts like this. Thanks and willing to share here

  190. Hi, my friend, are you able to give more post like this!! As I was very pleased to find this post on this site. I wanted to thank you for this great read. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. It sounds, like you’re on the up and up.
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  191. […] of the PriceRitePhoto fiasco where one disgruntled blogger drove a company out of business, yesterday arose another […]

  192. There is a serious confusion going on here. I own the domain name bestpricecamera.com and I am NOT IN THE CAMERA BUSINESS at all!!!!

    YOU ARE CONFUSING ME WITH BESTPRICECAMERAS.COM!!

    Come on people. Don’t you know an extra letter in a domain name makes a difference?????

    Repeat.
    I AM NOT NOW OR NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THE CAMERA BUSINESS!!
    Thanks

  193. Rob says:

    I had to laugh when I read your story. I few years ago, I decided to get a Canon DSLR. I’m pretty sure it was C&A photo. They had the best price. Ordered online, with the option to pay by Certified Check. Went to the back, got the check. When i went logged back in just before sending the check, there was some problem with the order. When I called, the same thing happened, major sales pitch to buy a bunch of additional assessories, at a much higher price than anywhere else. Said no, and was told the camera was backordered.
    Did a search online and found other complaints. Went back to the bank, had the certified check deposited back into my account, and went to Bestbuy.
    Yeah, good advise to anyone. Before purchasing from any online merchant, do an internet search and check them out. Never know what you may find.

  194. Autis says:

    i have searched for some other informations but then i found your website. very usefull information. many thanks

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